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]
Gallery | Where Are They Now: The Cast of 'Footloose'
Kevin Bacon: Bacon's film debut was as a snotty freshman in 1978's 'Animal House,' but he didn't really get noticed until he played reckless rich kid Fenwick in 'Diner' (1982). That led to his lead role in 'Footloose' as Ren McCormick, the big-city teen who persuades a Bible Belt town to kick off its Sunday shoes and lift a ban on dancing. Since then, Bacon's never been far from the spotlight. In the past 27 years, he's made more than 50 big-screen features -- notably, 'A Few Good Men,' 'Murder in the First,' 'Apollo 13,' 'Wild Things,' 'Mystic River,' 'The Woodsman,' and 2011's 'X-Men: First Class,' in which he played mutant supervillain Sebastian Shaw. He's also made a handful of TV movies, including 'Lemon Sky' (where he met Kyra Sedgwick, his wife since 1988) and 'Taking Chance.' He's been so ubiquitous that he inspired the trivia game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, based on the notion that he's worked with seemingly everyone in film and in every genre of movies. One thing the 53-year-old hasn't done much of on screen since 'Footloose' is dance, though he demonstrated in a 2002 episode of 'Will & Grace' (guest-starring as himself) that he still knows Ren's moves.
Kevin Bacon in 'X-Men: First Class' (2011)
Lori Singer: Before she landed the role of rebellious Ariel, Singer was a Juilliard-trained cellist best known for her role as cello student Julie Miller on TV's 'Fame.' 'Footloose' would prove to be the peak of her career. Though a couple of mainstream movies followed ('The Falcon and the Snowman,' 'The Man With One Red Shoe'), Singer soon found herself co-starring in little-seen indie movies. Arguably, her biggest role of the last quarter century was in the ensemble of Robert Altman's sprawling 'Short Cuts' (1993, co-starring fellow "Footloose' hoofer Chris Penn), in which she played a suicidal cellist -- a role Altman created with her in mind. Over the last 15 years or so, she seems to have spent more time on her classical music career and raising a family than on acting. In the spring of 2011, the 53-year-old resurfaced in a guest spot on TV's 'Law & Order: SVU,' playing the mother of a kidnapped child. In a 2010 interview, Singer said she didn't mind being identified primarily with 'Footloose.' "I'm proud to be that rebel forever," she said. "It reminds me to carry that spirit with me."
Lori Singer at the Producers Guild Awards (2011)
Chris PennChris Penn: Chris Penn grew up in show business as the son of director Leo Penn and actress Eileen Ryan and the brother of actor Sean Penn and singer Michael Penn. After appearing in small roles in such acclaimed films as 'Rumble Fish' and 'All the Right Moves,' the 17-year-old landed the plum role of 'Footloose's Willard, the farmboy who befriends Ren and becomes his first dance pupil. Penn followed 'Footloose' with a lead role in teen comedy 'The Wild Life,' but his burly physique made him a popular character actor in tough guy roles, notably, in 'Pale Rider' (opposite Clint Eastwood), 'At Close Range' (his only filim with brother Sean), 'Best of the Best' (where he made use of his black-belt karate skills), 'Reservoir Dogs,' 'True Romance,' 'Short Cuts' (in an ensemble cast that included 'Footloose' co-star Lori Singer), 'Mulholland Falls,' and 'Rush Hour.' His final film was 'The Darwin Awards,' which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival one day after Penn was found dead in his apartment. The 40-year-old had long struggled with drug use, obesity and heart disease, which was ruled the official cause of his death. In the 22 years since 'Footloose,' he'd scarcely gotten a chance to dance again, save in Jay-Z's 1998 video for 'Can I Get a...', in which he played a dancing bartender.
- Chris Penn in 'Deceiver' (1997)
John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest
John Lithgow: John Lithgow was already a Tony-winning Broadway actor (for 1973's 'The Changing Room') and a two-time Academy Award nominee (for his roles in 'The World According to Garp' and 'Terms of Endearment') when he was cast in 'Footloose' as Rev. Shaw Moore, father to wild child Ariel and the religious leader behind his small town's ban on dancing. Playing his wife Vi was Dianne Wiest, with whom he'd co-starred on stage in Christopher Durang's 'Beyond Therapy.' After 'Footloose,' Lithgow became a frequent movie villain in such films as 'Raising Cain,' 'Ricochet,' 'Cliffhanger,' Broadway's 'The Sweet Smell of Success' (for which he won his second Tony in 2002) and TV's 'Dexter,' where he won an Emmy for playing the Trinity Killer in 2009. But Lithgow also has a comic, even goofy side that he showed most famously as pompous alien Dick Solomon on long-running sitcom '3rd Rock From the Sun') but also in movies ('Buckaroo Banzai,' 'Harry and the Hendersons,' 'Shrek'), stage (his Tony-nominated performance in 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels') and the many books and records he's made for children. Lithgow has been married twice, to Jean Taynton (1966 to 1980) and to Mary Yeager (since 1981). The 65-year-old actor's most recent movie role was as James Franco's Alzheimer's-afflicted father in 2011's 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes.'
Dianne Wiest: In the early 1980s, Dianne Wiest was a veteran stage actress who had co-starred with James Earl Jones in 'Othello' and John Lithgow in Christopher Durang's comedy 'Beyond Therapy.' Her first big break onscreen was 'Footloose,' where she played Vi Moore, the wise and compassionate wife of the preacher played by her former stage co-star Lithgow. After 'Footloose,' Wiest specialized in playing put-upon moms trying to maintain an air of cheerfulness in such movies as 'The Lost Boys,' 'Parenthood' (for which she earned an Oscar nomination), 'Edward Scissorhands,' 'The Birdcage' and 'Rabbit Hole.' She played against type in the five movies she did with Woody Allen, winning Best Supporting Actress Oscars for two of them, playing a scattered caterer-turned-playwright in 'Hannah and Her Sisters' (1986) and a grand stage diva in 'Bullets Over Broadway' (1994). On TV, Wiest won two Emmys, for guest-starring on 'Road to Avonlea' (1989) and for her supporting role as Gabriel Byrne's therapist on 'In Treatment' (2008). Off-screen, Wiest had a longterm relationship with legendary talent agent Sam Cohn, who died in 2009. She has never married but adopted two daughters, now grown. The 63-year-old actress reunites with 'Parenthood' co-star Steve Martin in the new movie 'The Big Year,' released on the same day as the new 'Footloose.'
John Lithgow at the 'Leap Year' premiere (2010)
Dianne Wiest at the Emmy Awards (2009)
Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker: As a young Broadway and TV actress best known for co-starring in the short-lived junior-high sitcom 'Square Pegs,' Sarah Jessica Parker got her first big break in movies as 'Footloose's fun-loving Rusty. (She and Chris Penn, six months her junior, were the only ones among the movie's four teenage leads who were actually still teenagers.) Still, her film career didn't really take off until her flashy comic supporting turn in 1991's 'L.A. Story.' She starred in romantic comedies throughout the '90s (including 'Honeymoon in Vegas' and 'Miami Rhapsody'), only to gain even greater fame on TV as the star of 'Sex and the City,' which ran for six years and then made a hugely successful transition into a movie franchise in 2008. Today at 46, Parker (who married fellow 1980s teen star Matthew Broderick in 1997) is as popular as ever, whether as a style icon and pitchwoman or as a Broadway and film actress. Her characters of late have been variations on 'Sex's' Carrie Bradshaw, including her starring role in September 2011's 'I Don't Know How She Does It.'
Sarah Jessica Parker in 'I Don't Know How She Does It' (2011)
Kenny Loggins: Throughout the '80s, the former Loggins & Messina folkie was a one-man soundtrack factory, cranking out hit pop tunes for such smashes as 'Caddyshack' and 'Top Gun.' Most memorable of all was his theme song to 'Footloose,' which he co-wrote with Dean Pitchford, and which earned him an Oscar nomination. He and Pitchford also co-wrote another song for the movie, 'I'm Free (Heaven Help the Man),' which Loggins performed. In recent decades, as the 63-year-old has become a staple on the oldies concert circuit (including a 2005 reunion tour with Jim Messina), 'Footloose' probably remains his most popular tune and the only one to have spent several weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart. He's been married twice, to Eva Ein (from 1978 to 1990) and to colon specialist Julia Cooper (from 1992 to 2004). These days, Loggins records with country trio Blue Sky Riders, with whom he also recently made some (NSFW) Funny or Die videos spoofing his '80s soundtrack career. At the Hollywood premiere for the new 'Footloose,' Loggins offered lukewarm praise for Blake Shelton's cover of the song and continued to marvel at the original film's success. "We figured it would be lucky if it got any attention at all," he said.
Kenny Loggins at the 'Footloose' premiere (2011)
Dean Pitchford: In 1979, Dean Pitchford, then a Broadway and cabaret songwriter best known for his collaborations with Peter Allen, read a news article about Elmore City, an Oklahoma town that had just ended an 80-year ban on dancing. The story inspired Pitchford to write the screenplay that would become 'Footloose' five years later. In the meantime, his work with songwriter Michael Gore on the 1980 film 'Fame' (they co-wrote three of its tunes) led to a Best Song Oscar for the movie's theme song. That and the Grammy recognition for his pop songwriting gave him the clout to make 'Footloose,' for which he also co-wrote all nine of the songs. The 'Footloose' soundtrack would go on to sell 17 million copies, spawn six hit singles and rule the Billboard album chart for 10 weeks. The title track and 'Let's Hear It for the Boy' would earn Pitchford two more Oscar nominations. In the years that followed, Pitchford would enjoy continued success as a pop songwriter and earn one more Oscar nomination (for the song 'After All,' from 1989's 'Chances Are'). As with 'Footloose,' he wrote the screenplay and all the songs for the film 'Sing,' but the movie went nowhere. Same with his re-teaming with Gore on the Broadway musical 'Carrie,' a legendary flop. For years, Pitchford struggled to bring 'Footloose' to Broadway (he and 'Let's Hear It...' co-composer Tom Snow wrote nine more songs for the stage version), an effort that finally paid off in 1988. The show ran for two years in New York and spent the next decade touring the globe. In 2007, Pitchford embarked on a new career as a children's author, writing the novels 'The Big 1-0' and 'Captain Nobody.' The 60-year-old will publish his next book, 'Nickel Bay Nick,' in 2013, and next spring will see an Off-Broadway revival of 'Carrie.'
Dean Pitchford at a party in New York City (2011)
Herbert Ross: Before 'Footloose,' Herbert Ross already had a reputation as a director who specialized in Broadway adaptations (especially from Neil Simon plays), musicals and dance-oriented films. A former Broadway choreographer who had been creating dance sequences for movies since 1954's 'Carmen Jones,' Ross had directed such dance-driven pictures as 'Goodbye, Mr. Chips,' 'Funny Lady,' 'The Turning Point' (for which he earned his sole Best Director Oscar nomination), 'Nijinsky' and 'Pennies From Heaven.' He was in his mid-50s when he made 'Footloose,' but he had no trouble adapting to a youthful cast, a pop soundtrack and MTV music video-ready montage sequences. After 'Footloose's success, he made eight more movies, including the hits 'The Secret of My Success' and 'Steel Magnolias.' The last of the 25 movies he directed was 1995's 'Boys on the Side.' He was married for nearly 30 years to ballerina Nora Kaye, who died in 1987. The following year, he married Lee Radziwill (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' sister); they remained together until shortly before his death in 2001 at age 74.
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