It’s generally an uphill battle for reasonably intelligent Hollywood movies on any topic, but it’s steeper still for sports movies, which tend to peel off only those with an interest in the game. But Moneyball had the built-in advantage of being based on the most talked-about sports book in recent decades, and the added bonus of being, well, really entertaining. So while the $20.6 million collected by the film on its opening weekend was not quite enough to edge out the 3-D reissue of The Lion King, Moneyball got off to a promising start and seems poised to stick around for a while, given its awards-season buzz and the word-of-mouth suggested by its “A” on CinemaScore. Estimates have it barely beating Dolphin Tale, which fell into third with $20.26 million, despite the unfair advantage of a high-tech prosthetic fin. The other two new releases dropped off the table: Taylor Lautner’s future as a male starlet post-Twilight looks dimmer than ever after his thriller Abduction grossed $11.2 million, and the star power of Jason Statham, Clive Owen, and Robert De Niro did nothing for Killer Elite, which made only $9.5 million against a $70 million budget.
In limited release, the gay drama Weekend benefited from “the A.V. Club bump” by collecting the largest per-screen-average of any film in theaters, with $25,200 per screen. (The only hitch: It opened on only one screen.) Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty and Machine Gun Preacher, the Gerard Butler Oscar bait that will get no nibbles, also got off to a decent start, earning $12,786 and $11,000 per screen, respectively. Grim numbers for Thunder Soul, however: The inspirational documentary about a funk-infused high school stage band in the ‘70s will have to wait until the inevitable feature adaptation to make bank. At $1,594 per screen, it won’t be in theaters much longer.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.