Real Steel hammered to the top of the weekend fight card with an estimated $27.3 million and boosted Hugh Jackman with a rare hit outside the X-Men and Wolverine franchises. The movie performed more strongly than had been expected going into the weekend thanks to a 27% Saturday bump from Friday's gross.
The DreamWorks/Disney family-and-young-male-friendly rock-'em sock-'em robot movie, which cost $110 million, was embraced more warmly by moviegoing crowds than critics, with Cinemascore giving it an A+ among moviegoers under 25. (Rotten Tomatoes scores it 59% fresh.)
The Shawn Levy-directed Steel was just the second brand new movie in eight weekends to debut at No. 1, following Contagion. Weekends have been dominated by The Lion King re-release in 3D and holdover movies The Help and Dolphin Tale. It's also the first weekend since July 29-31 (Cowboys and Aliens, The Smurfs) that brand-new movies took the top two spots on the chart.
George Clooney's political thriller The Ides of March spun a solid $10.4 million as runner-up. Director, co-star and co-writer Clooney's cynical-wistful look at politicians and their handlers averaged $4,729 per location in 2,199 theaters. Weekend tally for the Sony release co-starring Ryan Gosling was respectable given its $12.5 million production cost after various rebates. And critics were more favorably disposed toward Ides of March than moviegoers, with the movie earning an 82% fresh score on RottenTomatoes. It also enjoyed a healthy 23% increase in box office on Saturday. CinemaScore was B+ from under 25s.
Among the holdovers, in its third weekend Warner Bros./Alcon's Dolphin Tale slipped to third place with a strong hold taking in $9.1 million, down only 34%. Its total to date is $49.1 million. Also strong was Brad Pitt's labor of love inside-baseball story Moneyball, which came in fourth with $7.5 million for Sony, bringing its cumulative gross to $49.3 million.
Word-of-mouth pushed Summit's Seth Rogen-Joseph Gordon-Levitt cancer comedy-drama 50/50 to $5.5 million, dropping just 36% in fifth place for the strongest hold among last weekend's newcomers, for a 10-day estimated total of $17.3 million.
Top Ten Box Office Chart:
1. Real Steel (Disney/DreamWorks) $27.3 million at 3,440 theaters, $7,936 theater average. Domestic total: $27.3 million.
2. The Ides of March (Sony) $10.4 million at 2,199 theaters, $4,729 theater average. Domestic total: $10.4 million.
3. Dolphin Tale (Warner Bros./Alcon) $9.2 million down 34% in its third weekend at 3,478 theaters. $2,634 theater average. Domestic total: $49.1 million.
4. Moneyball (Sony) $7.5 million down 38% in its third weekend at 3,018 theaters. $2,845 theater average. Domestic total: $49.3 million.
5. 50/50 (Summit) $5.5 million down 36% in its second weekend at 2,479 theaters. $2,219 theater average. Domestic total: $17.3 million.
6. Courageous (Tri-Star) $4.6 million down 49% in its second weekend at 1,161 theaters. $3,962 theater average. Domestic total: $15.9 million.
7. The Lion King 3D (Disney) $4.55 million down 57.1% in its fourth weekend at 2,267 theaters. $2,008 theater average. Domestic total: $85.96 million.
8. Dream House (Morgan Creek/Universal) $4.46 million down 46% in its second weekend at 2,664 theaters. $3,085 theater average. Domestic total: $14.5 million.
9. What's Your Number? (20th Century Fox) $3.1 million down 44% in its second weekend at 3,011 theaters. $1,013 theater average. Domestic total: $10.3 million.
10. Abduction (Lionsgate) $2.9 million down 48% in its third weekend at 2,591 theaters. $1,120 theater average. Domestic total: $23.4 million.