17 years since its debut, The Lion King is still a favorite with audiences. This weekend the Disney film was re-released in 3D and audiences were more than spend a little extra to see their favorite film, reworked. The new version topped the charts with an unexpected gross of $29.3 million – we predicted it would rule with $13 million. The thriller Contagion fell from the top spot to second, garnering $14.4 million. Meanwhile, Ryan Gosling‘s artsy R-rated action film Drive came in third place. Other new releases included Straw Dogs and I Don’t Know How She Does It, which finished in fifth and sixth behind The Help.

  1. The Lion King (in 3D) | NEW | Buena Vista | Weekend Gross $29,300,000 | Average Per Theater $12,575 | Total Gross $29,300,000 | Film’s Budget – N/A | Week 1
  2. Contagion | Last Week #1 | Warner Brothers | Weekend Gross $14,480,000 | Average Per Theater $4,494 | Total Gross $44,192,000 | Film’s Budget – $60 | Week 2
  3. Drive | NEW | FilmDistrict | Weekend Gross $11,019,000 | Average Per Theater $3,818 | Total Gross $11,019,000 | Film’s Budget – N/A | Week 1
  4. The Help | Last Week #2 | Buena Vista | Weekend Gross $6,438,000 | Average Per Theater $2,136 | Total Gross $147,365,000 | Film’s Budget – $25 | Week 6
  5. Straw Dogs | NEW | Screen Gems | Weekend Gross $5,000,000 | Average Per Theater $2,076 | Total Gross $5,000,000 | Film’s Budget – N/A | Week 1
  6. I Don’t Know How She Does It | NEW | Weinstein | Weekend Gross $4,502,000 | Average Per Theater $1,818 | Total Gross $4,502,000 | Film’s Budget – N/A | Week 1
  7. The Debt | Last Week #4 | Focus Features | Weekend Gross $2,946,000 | Average Per Theater $1,609 | Total Gross $26,544,000 | Film’s Budget – $20 | Week 3
  8. Warrior | Last Week #3 | Lionsgate | Weekend Gross $2,770,000 | Average Per Theater $1,471 | Total Gross $9,912,000 | Film’s Budget – $25 | Week 2
  9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes | Last Week #6 | Fox | Weekend Gross $2,625,000 | Average Per Theater $1,122 | Total Gross $171,618,000 | Film’s Budget – $93 | Week 7
  10. Colombiana | Last Week #5 | TriStar | Weekend Gross $2,300,000 | Average Per Theater $1,190 | Total Gross $33,347,000 | Film’s Budget – $40 | Week 4

The Lion King is only suppose to have a two-week run (to promote the Blu-ray edition, out October 4), but after this weekend’s big numbers I’m sure Disney hopes it can stay longer. Will this inspire studios to dig deep into their film libraries and re-release old classics in 3D? It’s already happening, but let’s hope they don’t go crazy with it.

Speaking of re-releases, the prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes is still roaming the top 10. This weekend, the movie earned $2.6 million, bringing its total to an outstanding $171 million. But Apes will likely be pushed off the top 10 this coming weekend with the release of Dolphin Tale, Brad Pitt‘s Moneyball, and teen-heartthrob Taylor Lautner‘s Abduction.

What did you watch this weekend?