Simba and company partied like it was 1994 at the box office over the weekend as "The Lion King" remained #1 for the second weekend in a row. The 3-D re-release beat back competition from four wide releases while hauling in another $22.1 million, according to studio estimates.
All four of the other movies in the weekend's top five were new releases, but none had the strength to topple the legendary Disney animated film, which has grossed $61.7 million domestically in its 3-D format alone.
Brad Pitt's "Moneyball" and the kid-friendly "Dolphin Tale" were in close competition for the #2 spot, while Taylor Lautner's "Abduction" (which has been savaged by film critics) and the action-centric "Killer Elite" (also not a critical darling) both failed to generate much excitement.
"Moneyball" was still just barely ahead of "Dolphin Tale" at press time. The baseball-centered flick has done well with critics, according to film review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, where it has a 94 percent critical average. The movie took in $20.6 million, just $340,000 more than "Dolphin Tale."
Lautner's first post-"Twilight" vehicle mustered just $11.2 million to land at #4 on the box-office chart. "Abduction" is one of the most poorly reviewed films of 2011, barely beating the 0 percent Tomatometer rating of recently released "Bucky Larson" with a paltry 3 percent.
"[Lautner's] not a terrible actor, but if he wants a career after the 'Twilight' fades, he'll pick better films," wrote Entertainment Weekly.
The combined star power of Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro generated just $9.5 million for "Killer Elite." The film is based on the book of the same name and marked the feature film debut of Irish writer/director Gary McKendry, who has directed commercials for IKEA, Porsche and Heineken.
There were a few limited releases of note over the weekend as well, including two that featured blockbuster marquee stars from comic book movies: "Machine Gun Preacher," with "300" hero Gerard Butler in the title role, and "Puncture," which features Captain America himself, Chris Evans.
Next weekend's new releases include the dramedy "50/50," which stars Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen, who cowrote the picture partly based on his own close friendship with a cancer survivor.
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