Box Office: ‘Real Steel’ dances past ‘Footloose’ to win the weekend

In something of a surprise, DreamWorks’ “Real Steel” had a family friendly comeback Saturday to win the weekend box office with $16.3 million.  The Hugh Jackman robot boxing movie overtook Friday’s winner, “Footloose,” which danced right behind with just $16.1 million its three-day debut.

“Steel” keeping the weekend crown is nice, but the $120 million plus blockbuster (DreamWorks says $110 million) has only found $51.7 million in 10 days. Stronger competition from “Three Musketeers,” “Paranormal Activity 3” and “Puss in Boots” will make crossing the $100 million mark domestically a major challenge.

Craig Brewer’s “Footloose” came in under pre-polling expectations of $22-24 million.  As Brewer noted yesterday, the budget of this 80’s remake was just $24 million, but that doesn’t take in Paramount’s intense marketing budget and the millions spent on developing other incarnations including a musical version which never got past the script stage.

Barely scaring anyone this weekend was the prequel to 1982’s “The Thing” also titled, “The Thing.”  Pulling in just $8.7 million, this is another pseudo-remake that audiences clearly weren’t interested in.

Showing nice legs was George Clooney’s “The Ides of March” which fell just 28% for another $7.5 million and $22.2 million to date.  That’s actually a better hold than 2007’s “Michael Clayton” which fell 35.6% and had grossed just $21.2 million at this stage. Considering “Clayton” eventually hit $49 million, don’t write off this political thriller yet.

Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ “Dolphin Tale” finished in fifth with another $6.3 million and $58.6 million so far.

One of the most peculiar marketing campaigns of the year was the last minute pitch for 20th Century Fox’s “The Big Year.” The David Frankel PG-rated comedy starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson arrived with barely a whimper with $3.3 million in over 2,100 theaters.  Fox is no doubt hoping everyone – including the stars – forget about the picture by Monday.  

In limited release, Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In” opened in just six theaters for $231,000 or a very strong $38,500 per theater.  It expands throughout the country over the next few months. Also opening in limited release, but also made available On Demand at the same time was Joel Schumacher’s “Tresspass” with Nic Cage, Nicole Kidman and Cam Gigandet.  The day and date experiment was a disaster on the theatrical side with just $18,200 in 10 theaters for a horrible $1,820 per theater.

Friday’s new releases include “The Three Musketeers,” “Paranormal Activity 3″ and Johnny English Reborn.”

Final box office results are released on Monday.