Weekend Box Office: Real Steel Soundly Defeats George Clooney’s Ides

Real Steel this weekend proved something that Universal failed to realize over the summer. Robots are in, and Cowboys and Aliens are out. DreamWorks’ Rocky-inspired robot boxing picture, released through Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, wasn’t tracking all that well, so the marketing department went into overdrive to pump up those tracking numbers in order for it to dominate this second weekend of October. It’s only major competition was an R-rated political thriller from George Clooney, The Ides of March. Disney saw Steel‘s grosses increase 30% from Friday to Saturday to finish the weekend with an estimated $27.3 million. An ‘A’ CinemaScore and A+ rating from the 25-and-under crowd is sure to please Disney execs, as they look to repeat its first-place finish against two ’80s remakes (Footloose, The Thing) and the comedy The Big Year this upcoming weekend.

Settling for silver was The Ides of March, a thriller with a $12.5 million price tag. Despite strong showings on the festival circuit (in Venice, Telluride and Toronto), it was still a hard sell for viewers. Still, it managed $10.4 million. Not a bad weekend by any stretch, but audiences and critics gave it about a B rating. What’s interesting is that audiences under the age of 25 gave it a B+ CinemaScore. You’d think older audiences would have been more inclined to rate it higher.

Unlike The Ides of March which should have some legs if Sony Pictures makes an incentive to push it for Oscars, Real Steel needs to make some serious money overseas if it is to be considered a box office success. With Monday being a Columbus Day holiday the movie might get a boost in attendance with kids having the day off from school.

The Ides of March has a strong ensemble with a standout lead performance from Ryan Gosling who has been killing it this year with his supporting work in Crazy, Stupid, Love and his stone-cold persona as Driver in Drive. It’s a venerable shoe-in for an Adapted Screenplay nomination, and if the Academy was smart they would show Ryan Gosling some Oscar love and reward him with a second Best Actor nomination, following 2006’s Half Nelson. Audiences may have been confused by the film’s title, though it sounds much better than the original play that is the basis for the film, Farragut North. But if they were expecting Shakesperian sonnets and a special appearance by Julius Caesar, perhaps we’ll see a series of lawsuits levied against Sony Pictures for mismarketing. If a woman can bring a suit against FilmDistrict because she was expecting Fast Five when she saw Drive, why not sue Sony for the lack of Shakespeare.

Third and fourth place go to last week’s top finishers Dolphin Tale and Moneyball. The aquatic family film had a $9.1 million weekend to bring its overall total to $49 million. Brad Pitt’s baseball movie that isn’t a sports movie, Moneyball, is just a few hundred thousand shy of matching its production budget of $50 million. It had a weekend total of $7.5 million.

50/50 maintains its fifth-place position as its sustains a 36% drop in attendance. The comedy dealing with cancer has made $17.3 million versus a $8 million budget. Religious-themed Courageous took a 50% hit in attendance but has already made seven times production budget back.

With the Blu-ray release of The Lion King, the 3D attraction looks to wrap up its four-week run with an estimated haul of $86 million. For some reason people either didn’t read the reviews of Dream House or just like to spend money on crap. The Daniel Craig-Rachel Weisz thriller made another $4.5 million despite paid critics and Internet bloggers warnings.

Scrapping the bottom of box office barrel was the romantic comedy What’s Your Number? with $3.1 million and Taylor Lautner trying to be Jason Bourne in Abduction. It finished the weekend with $2.9 million.

Taking a look at what’s new at the arthouse, The Human Centipede sequel made $54k at 18 locations, while the Juno Temple-starrer Dirty Girl dropped onto 9 screens earning $17.5k.

1. Real Steel – $27.3 million
2. The Ides Of March – $10.4 million
3. Dolphin Tale – $9.2 million ($49.1 million)
4. Moneyball – $7.5 million ($49.3 million)
5. 50/50 – $5.5 million ($17.3 million)
6. Courageous – $4.6 million ($15.9 million)
7. The Lion King – $4.55 million ($85.96 million)
8. Dream House – $4.46 million ($14.5 million)
9. What’s Your Number? – $3.1 million ($10.3 million)
10. Abduction – $2.9 million ($23.4 million)

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