“Dolphin Tale” Noses Way to Top

In a weekend dominated by inspirational family movies, “Dolphin Tale” rose to the top with $14.2 million, besting “Moneyball,” “The Lion King” and “50/50.”

The story of a young bottle-nosed dolphin named Winter (who stars on screen and off) who is caught in a crab trap, freed by a boy and brought back to health with a robotic tail designed by a prosthetics doctor (Morgan Freeman) is “resonating with audiences everywhere in North America, from big cities to small towns," Warner Bros. executive Jeff Goldstein said.

Moviegoers have given “Dolphin Tale” an A+ CinemaScore, and its performance this weekend made it the latest underdog film to rise to the top spot despite lower ticket sales at the box office, after “The Help” did so in August. “Dolphin Tale” grossed $20.3 million in its debut.

Its domestic box office total is $37.5 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The Lion King 3D” reigned the last two weekends, even though its take fell the second weekend, but it dropped to No. 3 for the conclusion of its rerelease run, with $11.1 million.

Settled in at No. 2 is “Moneyball,” the baseball drama based on Michael Lewis’ bestseller which stars Brad Pitt, who plays Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, and Jonah Hill. It took in $12.5 million, for a cumulative total of $38.5 million.

The weekend’s new releases did not break through to the top tier, with the Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen cancer dramedy “50/50” reaping an estimated $8.9 million, and “Courageous,” about police officers struggling with their faith and fatherhood, coming in right behind it in fifth place with $8.58 million.

As The Associated Press noted, all of the top 5 movies tell inspirational stories.

The Daniel Craig-Rachel Weisz horror flick “Dream House” opened weakly at No. 6 with $8.2 million, followed by Taylor Lautner’s “Abduction,” which slipped to seventh place and $5.7 million, and the numerically unthrilling debut of the Anna Faris comedy “What’s Your Number?” in eighth with $5.6 million.

Selected Reading: Hollywood Reporter, AP

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