Box Office Report: Brad Pitt's 'Moneyball' Tops Friday; Taylor Lautner's 'Abduction' Lands at No. 4

9:43 AM PST 09/24/2011 by Pamela McClintock
Sony Pictures; Lionsgate
"Moneyball," left, and "Abduction"

The baseball drama brings in $6.8 million, followed by "Lion King" and new family pic "Dolphin Tale"; "Abduction" and Jason Statham's "Killer Elite" trail.

Sony’s Brad Pitt baseball drama Moneyball topped the Friday box office with an estimated $6.8 million, putting it on course to score the best opening ever for a baseball drama with a projected weekend take of $20 million and solidifying the film’s awards standing. Taylor Lautner's Abduction, meanwhile, landed at No. 4.

Moneyball's Friday standing doesn't mean it will necessarily come in at No. 1 -- the weekend is proving to be one of the difficult to call in months.

PHOTOS: 'Moneyball' Premiere in Oakland

Disney’s 3D re-release of The Lion King continued to awe, grossing $6.1 million on Friday and potentially $20 million or more for the weekend, depending upon how Saturday plays out.

Dolphin Tale -- from Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros., the same team behind The Blind Side -- came in at No. 3 on Friday with an estimated $5.1 million.

STORY: Box Office Preview: Brad Pitt's 'Moneyball' Looks to Out-Run Taylor Lautner's 'Abduction'

The best news for Dolphin Tale: The inspirational film is only the third movie this year after The Help and Soul Surfer to earn a glowing A+ CinemaScore, meaning it could get a sizeable boost on Saturday and catch up with the competition. (Blind Side also received the top grade).

Moneyball -- an early awards contender for Pitt’s performance as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane -- also pleased its audience, earning an A CinemaScore.  The biopic played evenly among women and men but skewed older, with 89 percent of the audience over the age of 25 and 58 percent over the age of 50.

STORY: New Movie Reviews: 'Moneyball,' 'Abduction,' 'Machine Gun Preacher' Hitting Theaters

As it stands now, the best opening for a baseball drama was $16 million for Disney’s The Rookie.

The fate of the weekend’s two other films  -- thriller Abduction and Jason Statham-Robert De Niro action pic Killer Elite -- did solid business, but not spectacular.

PHOTOS: 'Abduction' Red Carpet Premiere

From Lionsgate and placing No. 4, Abduction grossed an estimated $3.8 million on Friday for a projected weekend gross of $11 million. Playing heavily to females, the pic drew a B- CinemaScore (it also has been roundly rejected by reviewers).

Killer Elite, the first title from acquisition and distribution company Open Road Films, grossed $3.5 million on Friday and received a B CinemaScore. The big question will be whether Killer Elite pulls ahead of Abduction.

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