Weekend Box Office: Will Critically Acclaimed ’50/50′ Overtake ‘Moneyball’, ‘Lion King 3D’ for Top Spot?

Four new films will be released nationwide this weekend, with the critically acclaimed 50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick, and Seth Rogen, leading the way. However, as much buzz as 50/50 has been getting coming out of Toronto International Film Festival, none of this weekend’s new releases are likely to overtake holdovers Moneyball, Dolphin Tale, or The Lion King 3D.

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The 3D re-release of Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) Lion King has carried domestic box offices two weekends running, grossing $66.4 million in North America since its release on September 16. As of Wednesday, Moneyball and Dolphin Tale had grossed $24.2 million and $21.6 million, respectively, since their release last Friday. Each of the trio is expected to gross somewhere between $13 million and $15 million this weekend.

However, Summit Entertainment has high hopes for the well-reviewed 50/50, and thinks the film has a shot at over-performing and earning the top spot at the box office this weekend. The script, written by Will Reiser, is based loosely on his his own experience with cancer. Directed by Jonathan Levine, the film co-stars Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston.

Also getting a wide release this weekend is the R-rated comedy, What’s Your Number?, starring Anna Faris and Chris Evans. The Fox (NASDAQ:NWSA) and New Regency film is expected to gross in the $7 million to $8 million range. Morgan Creek’s horror-thriller Dream House, also opening this weekend, is expected to land within that same range in its debut.

Starring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts, Dream House was beset with controversy over conflicts between Morgan Creek and director Jim Sheridan that prevented it from being screened for critics, which means the film, being distributed by Universal (NASDAQ:CMCSA), could fall short of its expected $7 million-$9 million take, or surprise everyone with a significantly higher opening weekend gross.

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This weekend’s fourth wide release is Courageous, from Sherwood Pictures and Sony’s (NYSE:SNE) Tri-Star. The movie follows four police officers struggling with their faith, and is expected to open in the $5 million-$6 million range, though Sherwood, a Christian film production company, expects that the film will do more after selling $2 million in advance tickets.