Against the odds, a feel-good story about a fish of some sort beat all the competitors this weekend. Meanwhile baseball is more popular than cancer, though cancer is respectably popular.

1) Dolphin Tale — $14.2M
Someone tell Jonah and Ahab, because wowee have we got a whale of a tale! Not since Free Willy has a story about one of god's big, weird, fragile creatures captivated audiences so. All the boys in Nantucket and New Bedford would be salivating over a creature this big, laden with spermaceti and moaning to us out of the deep. I- Hm? Dolphin? I'm talking about whales and this is a dolphin? Oh. Uh. Well. Dolphin, you say? All right. Uh... Dolphins, dolphins... Oh, remember Echo? Echo the dolphin? From that distressingly melancholy video game? What the fuck was that video game? It was all about loss and grief and, yes, being a dolphin. Very strange video game. And obviously Flipper. He had his little renaissance back in the '90s. And now there's this. This is, I believe, a movie about Morgan Freeman falling in love with a dolphin. With this continued success, I say cheers to the happy couple.

2) Moneyball — $12.5M
Having a great second inning, this picture has bunted and still managed to score a few runs. Baseball talk! Yeah basically this movie didn't start huge and isn't ending huge but has got a kind of steady word-of-mouth thing going for it, so it should end up pretty safely in the black. And is that so surprising? I know it doesn't seem like it, but America does like it some baseball. Right now they're doing the Playing-Offs, which is a tournament kind of thing that they do after their regular schedule of play dates is over for winter and they want to have a little more fun. Basically they say to their managers "Please Mistah, please keep the lights on a little longer?" and sometimes the kindly old crusty manager will chomp on his cigar and say "Alllll right, you kids go play a coupla games," and so they do, and that's the post-season. Near as I can tell. I mean, when the Sox are in it it's a no-holds-barred bloodmatch, but now that it's lame teams being lame, lamely, it's just silly stuff. Whatever. September sucks. You're all jerks.

4) 50/50 — $8.85M
Turns out more people want to see The Lion King (3rd, $11 million) in its third week of rerelease than want to see something about cancer. Pretty shocking, huh?? Ha, well, no, not shocking. Cancer is scary. But Joseph Gordon-Levitt is not scary! No, he is the chocolate chip ice cream stack of our dreams, and whether he is bald and shivering or dancing lamely to a Hall & Oates song, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the BLT sandwich that everyone wants. Even Jews! There's no denying that. Cancer be damned, JGL will always win. And I suppose there are some people still invested in the scratchy corduroy myth that is Seth Rogen, so this is their victory as well. This movie was super cheap to make, so a fourth place debut really isn't a disaster. It will probably get subsumed fairly quickly by all the other dark fall movies that are coming out, but it'll still do OK. Because who can say no to the dreamy root beer float that is Joseph Gordon-Levitt? No one can. Let's all just skip out on work right now and go watch him saunter in Mysterious Skin. We'll stop before the rape stuff. Ha. "The rape stuff." Good way to end this. Good for me.

5) Courageous — $8.8M
Whoa! Somehow, by Baal's grace or Zoroaster's infinite benevolence, this movie did quite well for its size and scale. Kissed by Mithra's grace, this movie reached the eyes, and hearts, of hundreds of thousands. The wisdom of Bahá'u'lláh carried this movie through an otherwise treacherous, dark weekend and look at what his kindnesses have yielded. Mighty Olòrún is great in his blessings and we should be thankful. (Ha ha, the joke here, dear readers, is that Courageous is a Christian movie, like Fireproof before it, and that is a deeply silly thing for a movie to be. Sorry. Heavy for a Monday morning, I know, but it's deeply silly nonetheless.)

6) & 8) Dream House — $8.2M; What's Your Number? — $5.6M
Oof. Two bombs for two tentative movie stars. Daniel Craig has struggled and near universally failed to find any footing at the box office when he's not wearing James Bond's tux, and this has not changed the pattern. Despite Dream House boasting three stars in top billing, granted not the most bankable stars but stars nonetheless, the Jim Sheridan (yes, it's bizarre) horror movie struggled to find a decent audience. Meanwhile, Anna Faris bellyflopped while trying to head down the typical movie actress romantic comedy route, which is hopefully an encouragement for her to do more standard comedy instead of this wedding fantasy stuff, and not a discouragement for studios from making Anna Faris into a star. I fear the latter is more likely, though if Daniel Craig is any example to go by, some studios will keep on betting on a horse long after it's proven that it will never win a race. So who knows! I wish them both luck.