By Kinsey Lowe | Thompson on Hollywood October 9, 2011 at 4:55AM
DreamWorks delivered another hit to distributor Disney as Real Steel dominated its weekend box office rivals. George Clooney's political drama The Ides of March, in fewer theaters, got off to a solid start. Meanwhile, holdovers Dolphin Tale, Moneyball and 50/50 all showed good legs. Kinsey Lowe reports.
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.