Real Steel Dominates Weekend Competition
By John Hamann
October 9, 2011
Following a weekend where Dolphin Tale swam up from third to first to take top spot at the box office, we have another strange family film on top this weekend. This time, it's the mechanical boxing movie Real Steel, starring robots, kids and Hugh Jackman. Also opening this weekend is Ides of March, the new political thriller from director and star George Clooney, who joins Ryan Gosling above the title. Holdovers include the somewhat surprising Courageous, and the fall of The Lion King, as it struggles to place ahead of last weekend's dismal horror flick, Dream House.
Our number one film of the weekend is Real Steel, the father and son, sci-fi, sports movie (and you didn't think that could happen). The Hugh Jackman flick (the press wants to call it star-driven, but Jackman still sits in the B-list in my mind) earned an okay $27.3 million from 3,440 venues, giving it an average of $7,936. Tracking was looking for $30 million from the flick that was made by DreamWorks and distributed by Disney, and it needed it. Real Steel was an expensive film to bring to the screen. DreamWorks paid Jackman $9 million (I am in the wrong business), on the way to paying $110 million for a movie about boxing robots. In my mind that's a risk. Jackman has never had a big hit away from X-Men/Wolverine, and I am not sure how well boxing will play (robotic or not) on the other side of the oceans.
Hugh Jackman is a great choice for an actor to bring the fanboys when his movies start with an X. His first big Hollywood production was X-Men in 2000, which, thanks to fanboys worldwide and the brilliant casting of Patrick Stewart as Professor X, turned X-Men into a huge $54 million opener. X-Men failed to earn an opening-to-domestic total of 3.0, though, finishing at $154 million. On the other hand, it was one of those early movies to dominate overseas, where it took in $140 million. Between X-Men and X2, Jackman made three films, the rom-com Someone Like You ($10 million opening, $27 million finish), Travolta's Swordfish ($18 million opening, $69 million finish), and Kate and Leopold ($9.7 million opening, $47 million finish, thanks to a Christmas Day release). While none of these films were particularly good, they did show that Jackman was a draw away from the US. Someone Like You earned $11 million overseas, and Kate and Leopold found about $24 million. Not bad considering their success (or lack of) in the States.
X2 was the turning point for the star – overseas. X2 opened to $85 million on the domestic front, and took in $215 million at home, but then earned $192 million overseas. Van Helsing was next, flopping in North America with an opening-to-total multiplier of only 2.3 and a domestic finish of only $120 million. Overseas, though, the 23% fresh monster hunting movie took in $180 million, $60 million more than in the US. In today's moviegoing world, this guy was now business. Almost every other film he did after Van Helsing earned more overseas than it did at home, except for the flop Deception, the 14% fresh thriller, and the Aronofsky flop, The Fountain. Will a boxing movie play overseas? If it has Jackman in it, it probably will.