Box office preview: 'Moneyball' favored to win in an extra-innings nail-biter

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Image Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

My box-office umpiring skills are really being put to the test here, as this weekend is particularly tough to call. There are four new movies stepping up to the plate, three of which have a legitimate shot at winning the pennant. (Okay, I’ll limit the baseball puns from here on out, although please allow me this one aside: Go Angels!) I’m placing my money on, well, Moneyball, which should benefit from Brad Pitt’s Hollywood star appeal and the film’s superb reviews. But watch out for last week’s champion The Lion King 3D, as well as newcomers Dolphin Tale and Abduction.

Here are my predictions for the top five:

1. Moneyball: $19 million

Sony’s $50 million sports drama has, at the time of this writing, earned the strongest reviews of any wide release so far this year — and that should attract a sizable adult crowd. Based on Michael Lewis’ bestselling nonfiction book of the same name, Moneyball stars Brad Pitt as the real-life Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane. The PG-13 movie documents Beane’s implementation of sabermetrics, or using baseball statistics instead of more traditional methods (like scouting reports) to discover undervalued players.

As someone who spent 10 percent of his childhood examining the newspaper’s box scores, Moneyball is pretty much my ultimate dream movie. But Sony has recognized that the subject matter may seem dry to many moviegoers. As a result, the studio has tailored its advertising to focus on Pitt’s charisma. That’s a wise move, as Pitt’s opening-weekend average for wide-release films is a solid $24 million. Moneyball has a shot at that figure, although I think it’ll fall a bit short. Instead, it should be aiming for the 2006 comedy The Benchwarmers, which currently holds the best opening for a baseball film ($19.7 million).

2. The Lion King 3D: $17 million

The re-released Disney classic surprised everyone by grossing an impressive $30.2 million last weekend. But with the animated movie’s new Blu-ray hitting stores in less than two weeks on Oct. 4, The Lion King might drop a bit more than popular family films typically do. Also, Dolphin Tale will steal some of the picture’s audience. I’m thinking Simba and company should be prepared for a mild decline of about 45 percent.

3. Dolphin Tale: $16 million

Touted as “from the studio and producers of The Blind Side,” the based-on-real-life inspirational drama has the potential to be a sleeper hit. Reviews have been generally positive, and Warner Bros. has done a commendable job marketing the $37 million film as feel-good entertainment for the entire family. The PG-rated movie, about a boy who rescues an injured dolphin and encourages those around him to build the mammal a prosthetic tale, is screening in 3-D at 2,700 theaters.

4. Abduction: $15 million

Built as a star vehicle for The Twilight Saga‘s Taylor Lautner, this John Singleton action film — made by Lionsgate for around $35 million — is so far receiving abysmal reviews. However, that won’t matter to Lautner’s teenage girl fanbase, which will likely single-handedly determine how well the movie performs. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have struggled to find much success beyond the Twilight franchise, but they have opted for riskier projects while Lautner is playing it safe with the PG-13 Abduction. It probably won’t reach Shia LaBeouf’s numbers for Eagle Eye ($29.2 million) and Disturbia ($22.2 million), but a debut in the mid-teens should be seen as a victory for Team Jacob.

5. Killer Elite: $11 million

This $66 million action thriller is the first feature being released by Open Road Films, a partnership between the AMC and Regal theater chains. Despite the presence of Robert De Niro and Clive Owen, Jason Statham is the star of the R-rated Killer Elite, and the actor typically averages a little more than $10 million on opening weekend. His last live-action film, January’s The Mechanic, debuted to $11.4 million. I expect the same modest tally this time around, especially considering Killer Elite‘s mediocre reviews.

Comments (43 total) Add your comment
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  • LOL

    America loves crap.

    • LOL

      I feel like crap.

    • Chaos

      I hate these spamming retards making the same comments every single day on every single article.

      • Chaos

        I hate these spamming retards making the same comments every single day on every single article

  • Liz Lemon

    Raise your hand if you’re seeing Abduction this weekend with it’s 0% on Rotten Tomatoes?

    • A

      Taylor Lautner is a terrible actor. The kid has one serious facial expression. He’s awful.

    • deedeedragons

      Yep. I can’t wait too see the best comedy of the year.

      • DRG

        I got so sick of seeing that trailer before every movie this summer and it was just excruciating to watch Lautner tryo to act his way out of a wet paper bag. Please, give his career to someone who can act at least a little. It is sad to know that the talents of Jason Isaacs and Sigourney Weaver being wasted on tripe like this.

  • Liz Lemon

    Drive and/or Moneyball will be receiving my moolah.

    • Dillon S.

      Go see both! Drive is amazing, saw it last weekend. And I saw Moneyball at this Microsoft thing idk my dad got it and took me haha. But still I like drive a little more idk I’m more of the art film type but I love normal movies too! Like Fast five! even though everyone hates it was a better than most action films. Anyways gosling and the Cranston are effing cool in drive. And brad Pitt I love this guy has a good performance but I thought Jonah hill actually did pretty good considering he was in that awful superbad (no where near as funny as other raunchy comedies except for a few parts) it was like due date funny scenes but an all around mediocre film. Haha wow I’ve said a lot for no reason…

      • punch drunk fool

        haha that was a lot. I agree on drive though! can’t wait for Moneyball

      • eggsalad

        Stop using “idk” you f**king geek.

      • George

        You liked Fast Five. You hated Superbad. I think I know which movies to stay away from or go see now. Or not.

  • Dave

    I’ll be seeing Moneyball.
    I’d also recommend Drive to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Great movie.

  • Carlito

    If Taylor Lautner takes his shirt off in the movie, it will probably end up at number 1 (*vomit*). And what’s up with the movie’s poster? Is he channeling Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt?

  • Jpratm

    Abduction looks like crap

  • Jose

    Who would spend $66 million on a Jason Statham flick? his films average less than half of that!

    As for films this weekend, I’ll be watching Drive and maybe Moneyball. I’ll just pretend that Abduction doesn’t exist, and why is Dolphin Tale in 3D?

  • George

    I’m kinda psyched for Killer Elite. Pretty generic name, though. I really liked Statham’s last movie, The Mechanic, Ben Foster is the man!

  • anti

    it sdh be called absduction, just show how stupid he is and his father whos goal is money money money

  • dee123

    Does anyone else find it VERY interesting that EW reviewed all the films coming out on the 23rd BESIDES Abduction?

    • Ed

      Abduction wasn’t pre-screened for critics. Which should tell you that even the producers don’t think it’s very good.

  • LMAO

    That dolphin movie will make more than the baseball movie. Take it to the bank.

    • STFU

      I disagree.

  • nana

    if abduction comes at 4 place,even then its a success because a crap movie like it shouldn’t suppose to make money.by far only robert pattinson is much successful from twi and his success is not consistent yet.he is a good actor though.kristen is gonna stay in game because of that snow white thing.i see no future for this kid.i am seeing moneyball for sure.

  • Bach

    I know the comparison between the BO successes of the Twilight trio’s non-Twilight films are inevitable, but the least John Young could do before writing this article was do some factual research before writing that Rob Pattinson as still struggling finding success beyond Twilight. Rob’s “Water for Elephants” this year was a risky project, yes, because it’s a straight drama, definitely a less popular genre in films in terms of box office, but it was still a success all in all considering. It made close to 16.8M on its opening weekend, which exceeded 20th Century Fox’s estimate, and went on to make 58M in US/Canada (117M worldwide), which made it so far the 24th highest-grossing drama of all time. Taylor’s Abduction is a PG-13 action film showing in 3000+ screens and should appeal to his teenage fans and their boyfriends, so I hope it does well.

  • jason

    someone tell hollywood to stop giving Taylor Lautner movie roles, he is not going to be a movie star…HE CAN’T ACT. just watching the trailer i laughed…

    • Old Cynic

      Oh, you young naive poster. Just because a person can’t act does not mean he can’t be a movie star!

      • Liz Lemon

        This is true, but they still must have some type of appeal. Lautner doesn’t have anything, but his abs.
        Most of the biggest actions stars: Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, etc. could still act a little bit to make it convincing and they also have the “It” factor.

  • ana

    well the tree twilight they have different movie different action …they both are excellent job ..

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