Dolphin Tale, despite its title’s awful pun on the plot (which curiously resembles How to Train Your Dragon, what with some animal with a broken tail befriends a kid) has managed to take the box office from much anticipated 3D re-release of beloved animated feature The Lion King.

No-nonsense audiences have demanded decidedly decent drama as of late, what with the remarkable success of The Help, for one. Its many profits gained over the three-weekend run on top of the box office could potentially be attributed to its name stars, but there’s no denying that a new trend appears to be settling in.

And for the best. Abduction failed miserably as it should have. And even if The Killer Elite had more familiar faces than it could help, it underperformed as well. The Help was successful because of its compelling performances and story—the two factors which ultimately determined A Dolphin Tale’s fate this first weekend of October.

This weekend’s box office is entirely comprised of all forms of drama, with the sports sub-division Moneyball residing in second. Though animated, The Lion King is as most of us know just Shakespeare. 50/50 is remarkably off-beat, but it too is a drama. Only, it includes a humorous angle at the very serious subject matter.

How the film would manage to remain intact from offensive material is beyond me. But still, it has come in fourth place—while substandard Dream House and 100% comedy What’s Your Number? (starring a seriously downward spiraling Anna Farris) have both seriously disappointed, crashed, and burned.

Rounding out the dramatic releases is Courageous, a film about the choices of four policemen. That’s right. The box office, for perhaps the first time in a long time, has embraced actually original films with a point that are driven purely by a powerful screenplay and thespian talent. To a point of course. But it’s progress, and perhaps someday soon cinema can bring meaning to society again. Influence it. Excite it.

Unfortunately, next week marks the premiere of Real Steal, Hugh Jackman’s latest, and not only does it look completely bizarre, but almost proportionally as appalling. A name doesn’t get you far these days, kind of a “talent ceiling” which keeps movies like Abduction in check. Which we’ve needed for a while.

With any luck, the film will flop. Although it would be nice to see Lost’s ‘Kate’ in something else. Either way, after Warrior’s critical success despite the intensely worn out fighter’s story, Real Steal is just a mutant aberration of genres that doesn’t look to be nearly as compelling as equally absurd genre-clash Cowboys and Aliens. Or as lucrative, for that matter.

But then Ides of March releases. This film should acquire first next weekend, since George Clooney’s performance of 2009 in Up in the Air was so well-received. Although Clooney himself seems rather unlikeable in-person, and perhaps a bit narcissistic, audiences want to see Clooney deliver another dramatic performance.

The playwright is usually superior to the screenwriter with the capacity to travel inward rather than all about. It comes with the job of occupying one location. The characters are deeper. They matter. Add this form to politics, and you have yourself an engaging film adaptation if done correctly—because film has the potential to improve theatre with subtlety, space, and technological advantages such as sound design, editing, and scoring. Plus the genre’s having booming business right now.

Weekend Box Office

Sept. 30 – Oct. 2nd, 2011

This Week

 

Title

 

Weekend Gross

 

 

 

Total Gross

 

Week #

1

 

Dolphin Tale  

$14,245,000

 

 

 

 

$37,516,000

 

2

2

 

Moneyball  

$12,500,000

 

 

 

 

$38,469,000

 

2

3

 

The Lion King (in 3D)  

$11,057,000

 

 

 

 

$79,652,000

 

3

4

 

50/50  

$8,858,000

 

 

 

 

$8,858,000

 

1

5

 

Courageous  

$8,800,000

 

 

 

 

$8,800,000

 

1

6

 

Dream House  

$8,209,000

 

 

 

 

$8,209,000

 

1

7

 

Abduction  

$5,650,000

 

 

 

 

$19,139,000

 

2

8

 

What’s Your Number?  

$5,600,000

 

 

 

 

$5,600,000

 

1

9

 

Contagion  

$5,040,000

 

 

 

 

$64,702,000

 

4

10

 

Killer Elite  

$4,855,000

 

 

 

 

$17,439,000

 

2