It’ll be a box office jungle this weekend, as one of Hollywood’s main lions takes on some formidable foes from the animal kingdom.
Brad Pitt’s new baseball drama, “Moneyball”, will battle for first place against last weekend’s surprise winner, the 3D version of “The Lion King” and a new family movie, “Dolphin Tale”. Each movie could start with between $ 18 million and $ 20 million, depending on who saw the audience polls before release.
“The Lion King” has proven to have bite even after its strong $ 30 million open, grossing more than $ 2 million a day since Monday. The re-release of the 1994 blockbuster even surpasses Disney’s expectations, prompting the studio to consider extending its initial two-week run.
Meanwhile, two other new films, “Abduction” – Taylor Lautner’s attempt to go from “Twilight” to an action star – and the action film “Killer Elite” are expected to gross between $ 10 million and $ 14 million. .
“Moneyball”, which some experts have already nominated as a candidate for the awards, has so far received exceptionally positive reviews from critics. The film, which cost Sony just over $ 50 million to produce, is based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling non-fiction book about Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane who uses an unconventional approach to analyze baseball statistics.
In the film, Pitt plays Beane, who turns the establishment of Major League Baseball upside down by fielding a motley team of players.
The film has come a long way to the big screen. Steven Soderbergh was scheduled to start shooting the film in 2009, but just days before filming began, Sony ended financial and creative disputes with the filmmaker. About a year later, Bennett Miller was hired to direct the film using a script edited by Aaron Sorkin.
“Dolphin Tale”, based on the story of a real sea creature who lost its tail in a crab trap, should resonate strongly with family audiences. The film is sold as an inspirational drama, a few of which have performed well at the box office in recent months. “Soul Surfer”, a low budget film about a girl who lost her arm in a shark attack, grossed a respectable $ 44 million worldwide and earned a rare “A +” rating from audiences, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
The current film, which the cast includes Harry Connick, Jr. and Morgan Freeman, was produced for around $ 37 million by Alcon Entertainment and is being released by Warner Bros. Like “Soul Surfer,” the photo has been marketed in recent weeks to an faith-based audience as well as homeschooled children.
“Abduction” is Lautner’s first major film outside of the lucrative “Twilight” series, which put him in the limelight. Lionsgate spent around $ 35 million to produce the action film, and the studio is hoping it will spawn a franchise similar to “Bourne Identity,” starring Matt Damon.
The film has generated the most interest so far among Lautner’s key population – teenage girls – but if it is to ultimately succeed, it will need to attract a larger audience. Meanwhile, Lionsgate needs a hit after a rough summer at the box office. “Conan the Barbarian,” an expensive remake of the ’80s Arnold Schwarzenegger film, and mixed martial arts drama “Warrior” were among the studio’s recent flops.
“Killer Elite” is the first release from Open Road Films, a joint venture between movie theater operators Regal Entertainment and AMC Entertainment. The company, headed by former Weinstein Co. executive Tom Ortenberg, launched in March and plans to acquire and distribute eight to ten films per year.
The film, starring Robert de Niro, Jason Statham and Clive Owen, was funded by Australian content and technology company Omnilab Media for around $ 70 million. Open Road, which also pays to market the film, is not disclosing how much it spent to acquire the US distribution rights for the film.
In a limited edition, Relativity Media’s “Machine Gun Preacher,” about an armed religious leader traveling to Africa, will open in a total of four theaters in Los Angeles and New York.
A new dawn for Taylor Lautner
“Moneyball” hits bat after line-up changes mid-game
Spread the word about “Machine Gun Preacher”, “Dolphin Tale”
– Amy Kaufman
Photo: Brad Pitt, left, alongside Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”. Credit: Sony Pictures.