There's a chance Disney's "The Lion King" in 3-D will stay on top the box office food chain for an unprecedented third straight weekend. But it could be just a "50/50" chance.
The re-release of the 1994 animated classic has turned out to be somewhat of a September surprise, and a likely gross in the mid-teens will put this "Lion" in the thick of the fight with the weekend's jungle of contenders _ including Summit Entertainment's newcomer "50/50."
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen as best friends dealing with a cancer diagnosis, the R-rated "50/50" has received a positive prognosis from critics and should open with a healthy gross in the mid-teens.
Driven by strong word of mouth, "Moneyball" from Sony has been hitting home runs all week long, topping the daily box office chart (after a second place weekend debut) with close to $2 million per day. The Brad Pitt sports biography has won cheers from critics and is set to swing for the fences this weekend, but the Major League Baseball playoffs could keep receipts in the low-teens.
Warner Bros.' "Dolphin Tale" in 3-D has also thrived, despite a surprisingly competitive fall family marketplace. Starring Harry Connick Jr., the PG-rated film garnered a rare A+ CinemaScore rating and should perform swimmingly this weekend with a gross in the low teens.
Also looking to move into fourth place is Universal's PG-13 mystery thriller "Dream House," starring Daniel Craig, which is expected to nail between $12 million and $14 million on its opening weekend.
Fox's debuting R-rated romp "What's Your Number?", starring Anna Faris, should ring up around $10 million to round out the top five.
But wait, debuting in only 1,100 theaters is the faith-based drama "Courageous," which is being distributed by Sony/Tri-Star. The PG-13 film about four police officers who struggle with their faith is not to be underestimated in terms of its box office potential. Grass roots marketing and a devoted audience likely to do its devoting with dollars could make this one an anointed performer this weekend.
Paul Dergarabedian is president of the Box Office Division of Hollywood.com and provides box office analysis for The Associated Press.