With its father-son drama as well as boxing-'bot action, 'Real Steel' is proving a stronger family draw than pundits initially predicted. This week, it performed as expected, declining a modest 40 percent from last week's debut to finish with an estimated $16.3 million. To date, the film has earned a total of $51.7 million in North America and another $22 million overseas. Not bad, but still a long way to go to recoup its reported $110 million budget.
'Footloose' was expected to give 'Real Steel' a run for its money. Indeed, many pundits predicted that the remake would come out on top this weekend. (In fact, it still could; its estimated total is just $200,000 behind 'Real Steel,' close enough that they could switch places on the chart when final figures are released on Monday.) Still, despite the popularity of dance films among young audiences, this virtual shot-for-shot remake of the 1984 film seemed designed to appeal more to middle-aged fans of the original than to kids the same age as the movie's teenage rebels; studio polling found that just 27 percent of the audience was under 18. Young men were especially uninterested, as the audience turned out to be 75 percent female.
'The Thing' proved to be the latest in a series of horror flops. The prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter classic (itself a remake of a 1951 creature feature) came in third with an estimated $8.7 million, well below predictions of $12 to $16 million. Blame lackluster reviews, weak buzz, and confusing marketing. (Many viewers may not have known it was a prequel, since it had the same title, plot and setting as Carpenter's film, so moviegoers may have dismissed it as just another remake.)
Holding strong at fourth and fifth place were 'The Ides of March' and 'Dolphin Tale.' In its second week, 'Ides' slipped just 28 percent, to an estimated $7.5 million, for a total so far of $22.2 million. That's pretty good for an Oscar-hopeful drama about the thorny subject of presidential politics; having George Clooney and Ryan Gosling as leads certainly doesn't hurt.
As for 'Dolphin,' it continued to hold its own despite family audience competition from 'Real Steel' and competition for religious viewers from 'Courageous' (holding up well at No. 8 after three weeks). In its fourth week, 'Dolphin' slid just 31 percent to an estimated $6.3 million, for a total of $58.7 million to date.
This weekend's other new wide release, 'The Big Year,' boasted an all-star comic cast -- Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson -- yet it could muster no better than a ninth-place debut and an estimated $3.3 million. Not that pundits expected much: a comedy about birdwatching is a hard sell, but the movie's indifferent marketing didn't even try, leaving viewers with no clue what the film was about. Still, a cast this noteworthy could have drawn between $6 and $9 million on the movie's 2,150 screens. That it performed only half as well as its most pessimistic predictions suggests that 'Big Year' has little chance of earning back its reported $41 million budget.
All told, this was a bleak weekend at the box office, with a total take of only about $90 million. This October's take is about 11 percent off from last October's, while earnings for the year to date are still 3 percent off from 2010 ($8.15 billion compared to $8.45 billion).
The full top 10:
1. 'Real Steel,' $16.3 million (3,440 screens), $51.7 million total
2. 'Footloose,' $16.1 million (3,549), new release
3. 'The Thing,' $8.7 million (2,996), new release
4. 'The Ides of March,' $7.5 million (2,199), $22.2 million
5. 'Dolphin Tale,' $6.3 million (3,286), $58.7 million
6. 'Moneyball,' $5.5 million (2,840), $57.7 million
7. '50/50,' $4.3 million (2,391), $24.3 million
8. 'Courageous,' $3.4 million (1,214), $21.4 million
9. 'The Big Year,' $3.3 million (2,150), new release
10. 'The Lion King,' $2,7 million (1,970), $90.5 million
[Photos: DreamWorks, Paramount, Universal, 20th Century Fox]
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