‘Dolphin Tale’ Tops Box Office With $13.9 Million in Revenue

“Dolphin Tale” rose to first place in its second weekend of release, taking in $13.9 million at theaters in the U.S. and Canada for Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Bros. studio.

The film unseated the 3-D re-release of “The Lion King,” which ranked No. 1 for the prior two weekends, and edged out four new movies, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s “The Lion King” dropped to third with $10.6 million.

“Dolphin Tale,” based on a true story, follows a young boy’s effort to persuade scientists to create a prosthetic for a dolphin whose tail was amputated. The 3-D movie benefited from positive word-of-mouth after opening in third place last weekend, trailing the Brad Pitt baseball drama “Moneyball.” The film has collected $37.2 million in two weeks.

“Family films are a hot commodity right now, and this demonstrates that,” Jeff Bock, a film analyst for Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview.

“Dolphin Tale” features Nathan Gamble as a boy who finds the dolphin washed up on a beach, its tail infected after becoming entangled in a crab trap. Morgan Freeman co-stars as a prosthetics expert who creates the artificial tail. Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd also are featured.

Finishing second was Sony Corp. (6758)’s “Moneyball” with $12 million. It’s the story of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane’s effort to transform the budget-constrained ball club from also-rans into winners. The film, based on the book by Michael Lewis, co-stars Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The movie has taken in $38 million in two weeks.

‘50/50’

“The Lion King” has generated $79.2 million in the U.S. and Canada since its debut on Sept. 16. The film tells the story of Simba, a lion cub who runs away after being tricked into thinking he was responsible for his father’s death. The 1994 film won Oscars for original score and original song.

Opening at No. 4 was “Courageous,” a movie about four fathers in law enforcement who are forced to grapple with their faith as tragedy strikes close to home and drives their children further away from them. The film is made by Sherwood Pictures, the movie production unit of Sherwood Church of Albany, Georgia, and is distributed by Sony. It had $9.1 million in receipts this past weekend.

“Sony picked this up wisely, and this film had a great grass-roots marketing campaign,” Bock said. “It’s amazing when a faith-based film does that much money.”

Cancer Comedy

“50/50,” the Summit Entertainment LLC film about a young man who finds out he has cancer, opened in fifth with $8.6 million. In the movie, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character confides to a friend, played by Seth Rogen, that he has been diagnosed with cancer. Anna Kendrick co-stars as a therapist who tries to help the patient cope with his situation.

Sixth was “Dream House,” with $8.2 million and also making its debut. The movie stars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz as parents in a family traumatized by strange occurrences in their new home. Naomi Watts also is featured in the film released by Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures.

“Abduction” finished seventh with $5.6 million in its fourth week of release. The movie is from Vancouver-based Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

“What’s Your Number?”, from News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, had $5.4 million in its first weekend. Anna Faris is featured as a lovelorn young woman who revisits her ex-boyfriends hoping to discover whether one of them might have been Mr. Right.

Revenue Rises

Rounding out the top 10 were “Killer Elite,” a movie backed by cinema operators, at ninth with $4.9 million, and Warner Bros.’ “Contagion” in 10th with $4.9 million.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 4 percent to $89.6 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Domestic box-office receipts this year have declined 3.4 percent to $7.99 billion. Attendance is down 5.4 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
 1 DOLPHIN TALE (3-D) $13.9    3,515   $3,958  -27    $37.2    2
 2 MONEYBALL           12.0    2,993    4,020  -38     38.0    2
 3 THE LION KING (3-D) 10.6    2,340    4,537  -52     79.2    3
 4 COURAGEOUS           9.1    1,161    7,806   --      9.1    1
 5 50/50                8.6    2,458    3,517   --      8.6    1
 6 DREAM HOUSE          8.2    2,661    3,085   --      8.2    1
 7 ABDUCTION            5.6    3,118    1,799  -49     19.1    2
 8 WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?  5.4    3,002    1,806   --      5.4    1
 9 KILLER ELITE         4.9    2,986    1,647  -47     17.5    2
10 CONTAGION            4.9    2,744    1,788  -42     64.6    4
11 DRIVE                3.3    1,974    1,667  -43     27.0    3
12 THE HELP             3.0    2,505    1,204  -31    159.4    8

Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $89.6         $86.2      +4.0


Year-to-date Revenue

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $7,985        $8,266      -3.4

Year-to-date Attendance:     -5.4%

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net; Dan Hart in Washington at dahart@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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