A remake, a prequel, and one woefully misguided bird-watching comedy couldn’t take down Hugh Jackman and the robots of Real Steel at the box office this weekend.
Steel punched up an estimated $16.3 million this weekend, marking a healthy 40 percent drop from its $27.3 million debut. As evidenced by the film’s impressive 64 percent boost on Saturday, it appears that Real Steel is playing as an outright family affair, and that sort of appeal will help it achieve small drops in the coming weeks. Still, the $110 million Dreamworks film, which is being distributed by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, has a very long way to go before it’s in the black. So far, Real Steel has earned $51.7 million in ten days.
Paramount’s $24 million remake Footloose managed to open in second place with $16.1 million, a rather lackluster result. Instead of playing like a hyped-up event movie, Footloose played much more like a typical dance flick. It attracted fewer dance fans than movies like Save the Last Dance (2001, $23.4 million opening) and Step Up (2006, $20.7 million opening), but it performed on the same level as Step Up 3D (2010, $15.8 million opening) and You Got Served (2004, $16.1 million). The film played best with women, who made up 75 percent of the audience, and older moviegoers, who composed 61 percent of the opening weekend crowd. Footloose earned a solid “A” CinemaScore grade, and strong word-of-mouth could help it dance its way out of financial trouble, but it will not be able to match the $80 million total that the original Footloose achieved back in 1984.
In third, Universal’s horror prequel The Thing didn’t scare up many ticket sales this weekend, opening with $8.7 million. The film, which totes a reported $35 million budget, performed below Universal’s expectations, becoming the latest 2011 horror film to not connect with audiences. Movies like Scream 4 ($38.2 million total), The Rite ($33 million), and Priest ($29.1 million) have all struggled at the box office this year. Even Thing star Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s former franchise film, Final Destination 5, performed unremarkably, earning only $42.1 million. The best comparison for The Thing is probably Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which opened with a similar $8.5 million and finished with $23.2 million. Considering The Thing earned a weak “B-” CinemaScore grade and a sad $2,990 per theater average, that total is about the best it can hope for.
George Clooney’s political thriller The Ides of March held very well in its sophomore weekend, dipping only 28 percent to $7.5 million in fourth place. That decline is far less severe than Clooney’s other recent political flicks, The American and The Men Who Stare At Goats, which dropped by 57 and 54 percent in their second weekends, respectively. Perhaps Clooney has made a political movie that’s a bit more palatable for general audiences—or perhaps it’s just the Ryan Gosling effect. Either way, after ten days, Ides, which cost Sony $12.5 million to produce, has earned $22.2 million. If it keeps up the soft declines, it could become a serious Oscar contender.
Dolphin Tale spent one last weekend in the Top 5, sliding 31 percent to $6.3 million. After four weekend’s Warner Brothers’ surprise 3-D hit has accrued a nice $58.7 million total. Along with Moneyball ($57.7 million after four weeks) and The Lion King 3D ($90.5 million after five), Dolphin Tale is one of the few box office bright spots since The Help.
The weekend’s other new wide release, The Big Year, debuted way back in ninth place with $3.3 million out of 2,150 theaters. Fox spent $41 million on the Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson bird-watching collaboration that wasn’t quite a comedy, wasn’t quite a drama, wasn’t quite a competition film, and apparently wasn’t at all enticing for audiences, who gave the picture a “B-” CinemaScore grade. Between the financial failure of The Big Year, and 2006′s Hoot, which opened to $3.4 million out of 3,018 theaters, maybe Hollywood should think twice about the appeal of birds at the box office. They don’t always soar.
In limited release, Pedro Almodovar’s deeply creepy The Skin I Live In got off to a strong start, with $231,000 in six theaters, good for a robust $38,500 per theater average. Internationally, tastes weren’t quite as refined, as The Smurfs finally passed $400 million overseas.
1. Real Steel – $16.3 mil
2. Footloose – $16.1 mil
3. The Thing – $8.7 mil
4. The Ides of March – $7.5 mil
5. Dolphin Tale – $6.3 mil
6. Moneyball – $5.5 mil
7. 50/50 – $4.3 mil
8. Courageous – $3.4 mi
9. The Big Year – $3.3 mil
10. The Lion King 3D – $2.7 mil
For more box office updates throughout the week, follow Grady on Twitter: @EWGradySmith