Why do people treat weekend box office as if it were an actual horse race, as if it somehow matters to us, the consumer, which faceless corporation makes another stray million more over a three-day span than another faceless corporation? We have no idea! But it's still fun. Welcome to this week's Box Office Predictor. Prepare thyself for random guessing about dollar figures so large that they become meaningless!
1. "The Lion King 3-D." (2,340 screens) Yeah, yeah, we know: We're not happy about it either. Only one movie in 2011 has been No. 1 at the box office for three straight weeks: "The Help." A movie released in 1994 is about to become the second. Impressive, considering it was only supposed to be a two-week engagement. Funny how that works. Guesstimate: $15 million.
2. "Dolphin Tale." (3,515 screens) You realize, at the rate we're going, by 2016, every movie in the top 15 of the box office will be a family film. And all of them will have been made 20 years earlier. Guesstimate: $13 million.
3. "What's Your Number?" (3,002 screens) The buzz is bad, and we're all pretty disappointed that it's yet another movie that doesn't know how to use Anna Faris. (Or at least keeps reigning her in.) But it also doesn't seem to have engendered the immediate flaming hatred that "I Don't Know How She Does It" did. It could tick up a little better than people think. Guesstimate: $11 million.
4. "Moneyball." (2,993 screens) The baseball playoffs that start tonight -- tonight! -- might eat into the grosses a little, but we're not sure about that: As we've said repeatedly (to the point that you're quite annoyed by it), we think the non-baseball fan will enjoy this more anyway. Plus, baseball fans already saw it. Guesstimate: $10 million.
5. "Courageous." (1,161 screens) Yes, yes, it has sold more than $2 million in advance sales already, highest for the week. And it'll mobilize evangelical groups. It's still only playing on 1,161 screens, and it's difficult to imagine any walk-ups. Is beating "Dream House" enough of a consolation prize? Well, actually, we suppose heaven is. Guesstimate: $9 million.