Weekend Box Office: Close Finish – Real Steel Repeats As #1, Footloose Close Second

Yesterday, it looked like Footloose had a slight edge over last week’s number one release, Real Steel. The ’80s dance remake opened on one hundred more screens and early estimates had it finishing with $16.5 million. But Saturday matinee ticket sales were so good for Real Steel that it finished the weekend strong instead of “cutting loose.” After two weeks Real Steel has an estimated cume of $51.7 million. $16 million this weekend is an okay holdover, but the PG-13 rated family flick should be doing better. DreamWorks figured on having this release be a modest summer blockbuster released in the early part of fall. Now it looks like its success for a future installment will depend on foreign grosses and home video performance.

Remakes don’t come cheap. 2011’s Footloose was $24 million, to which Paramount execs figured they’d recoup the first weekend. Apparently they failed to do their box office homework and crunch some numbers when it comes to dance movies. The best opening weekend for a dance movie was 2001’s Save the Last Dance. Also a Paramount movie, Dance opened with $23.4 million. Footloose looks to finish the weekend with around $15.5 million. Comparatively, that’s only $7 million more than 1984’s Footloose. Also working against Paramount is knowing 46% of those in attendance were over the age of 35 looking to wax nostalgia and see if it still smells like Bacon. Since the mid-’00s, dance flicks seem to open in the $10 million to $15 million range. If that’s the case, look for the eventual Dirty Dancing remake to have a $13 million opening.

There’s someThing wrong with this picture. Why Universal picked this weekend to deliver another ’80s retread is beyond me. Even with Paranormal Activity 3 opening on Friday, the studio could have easily slated it for October 28th. It would have been timely in the days leading up to Halloween. But knowing them they looked at what happened to the Saw series and how it performed a few days before Halloween. Still, there was never a Saw movie that finished worse than a $14 million opening. The Thing looks to finish with less than $9 million. Even with comic-book nerds jonesing for some hot Mary Elizabeth Winstead in icy terrain and rising star Joel Edgerton, audiences weren’t biting. Actually, the best entertainment I’ve had this weekend that was Thing related was reading two critics argue the importance of John Carptenter’s 1982 release starring The Thing. One had never seen it, while another considers it one of the landmark horror films ever released (which it is).

George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Ides of March, is his best overall and adults seem to agree. With a 29% drop in attendance overall, the Ryan Gosling-starring political thriller earned an estimated $7.5 million this weekend. Sony Pictures’ other adult-aimed release, Moneyball, finished with an estimated weekend cume of $5.5 million. After four weeks it has grossed $57.7 million.

Summit’s 50/50 looks to be a smallish hit when it finishes its run. The comedy starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was made for $8 million and has accumulated $24.5 million after three weeks.

How Twentieth Century Fox expected viewers to attend The Big Year when the TV spots didn’t help audiences realize what the film was about is baffling. You would think that the combination of Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Martin would be enough. But adult audiences weren’t buying it and neither was anyone else – it finished with a paltry $3.2 million. Also disappointing is that the film was hatched by director David Frankel, who also directed The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me, both hits for Fox. Clearly, the studio made it because of Frankel’s relationship. Fox claims that its investment was just under $30 million. Considering Prada and Marley made more than $500 million combined globally, the studio can eat the costs and hope that the comedy becomes a steady earner on home video.

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