‘Dolphin Tale’ Slays ‘Lion King’ At Box Office

'Dolphin' and Brad Pitt's 'Moneyball' push last week's #1 to #3.

A bunch of animals (and Brad Pitt) fended off competition from four new films over the weekend. “Dolphin Tale,” “Moneyball” and “The Lion King” (in 3-D) took the top three spots at the weekend box office, respectively, with the Seth Rogen- and Joseph Gordon-Levitt-starring “50/50″ achieving moderate business. “Courageous” did well considering its budget and range of release, while “Dream House” and Anna Faris’ “What’s Your Number?” tanked.

“Dolphin Tale” and “Moneyball” were neck and neck for the spot behind reigning champ “The Lion King” when they first entered theaters. But over the weekend, the story of Winter the dolphin swam past both of those films to become the #1 movie in America.

“Dolphin Tale” earned $14.2 million during its second weekend of release according to studio estimates, which brought its domestic total to $37.5 million. Pitt’s “Moneyball” was right behind with $12.5 million for a $38.5 million total. The re-release of “The Lion King” dropped to #3 but still earned enough ($11.1 million, to be exact) to push it past “Spider Man” in the all-time box-office top 10. The Disney giant has made $408.2 million since it was first released in 1994.

“50/50″ was #4 with $8.9 million, which was the lowest opening for any Seth Rogen movie. However, the dramedy’s overwhelmingly positive reviews (it sat at 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes‘ Tomatometer at press time) and reportedly modest production budget make that a respectable, if underwhelming, debut. “50/50″ co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “Hesher,” by contrast, made just $382,946 domestically during its 12-week run in theaters earlier this year.

Made for just $2 million, “Courageous” played on roughly 1,000 fewer screens than the other new releases and enjoyed the fifth-biggest opening for a Christian-based movie, behind “The Passion of the Christ” and the “Chronicles of Narnia.” The film, which centers on a group of police officers affected by tragedy, opened at #5 with $8.8 million.

“Dream House” cost a reported $50 million to produce and opened at #6 with just $8.2 million. The haunted-house thriller stars real-life married couple Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. Only 8 percent of film critics reviewed the film favorably, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

“What’s Your Number?” fared the worst of the weekend’s new releases. The Anna Faris comedy was #8 with $5.6 million, which is less than half of the opening number of Faris’ 2008 movie “The House Bunny.”

Internationally, “The Smurfs” remained #1 for an eighth consecutive weekend.

Next weekend’s new releases include Hugh Jackman’s “Real Steel,” the Ryan Gosling/George Clooney political scandal flick “The Ides of March” and Clive Owen’s “The Intruders,” all three of which have been embraced by most critics thus far.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Dolphin Tale” and “Moneyball.”

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