Real Steel Dominates Weekend Competition
By John Hamann
October 9, 2011
Real Steal was was 58% fresh at RottenTomatoes, but in terms of overall success, that's a percentage that really isn't going to matter. If Real Steel shows no legs, despite being a Rocky type film (with robots), it will still be a $70 million outing for DreamWorks and Disney. If the concept works overseas, it will then earn another $70 million overseas (thanks to Jackman, and robots in Japan), making it mildly profitable. On the outside, Jackman is a strange choice for something like this, but after looking at the math, the greenlight makes sense, considering the new world of international box office.
Finishing second this weekend is a film that won't play well overseas, despite having an international superstar at the forefront and in the director's chair. George Clooney's The Ides of March was looking for an opening in the $12-$14 million range this weekend, but opened a little softer this weekend to $10.4 million. Released to a moderate 2,199 venues, the political thriller earned a venue average of $4,729. Filled with both Oscar winners and nominees (Clooney, Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, Marisa Tomei) and up and comers (Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood), Clooney made a very good film (82% fresh at RottenTomatoes), but one that might be considered to narrow for a wide audience. Given the $18 million budget, Clooney obviously got his actors to buy-in for a reduced fee, and now Sony stands to make some money off of this one.
There are a lot of questions left after opening weekend, questions I don't have answers to. Despite the reception from critics, will a film like this have legs? What about overseas? Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck earned $21 million overseas after a domestic total of $31.5 million. Good Night, and Good Luck was shot in black and white, and was about American politics, so if a film like that can earn more than $20 million overseas, there is absolutely no reason why this one can't. Given the budget involved, this is going to be another win for Clooney, who has been on a roll as of late. Look for The Descendants, Clooney's next, which was directed by About Schmidt's Alexander Payne.
Third spot goes to last weekend's winner, Dolphin Tale, about a boy who helps nurse and injured dolphin back to health (no robots this time). Dolphin Tale opened in third, swam up to number one, and now swims back down to number three. This weekend, its third, the leggy kids flick earned $9.2 million, and was off 34%. The Warner Bros. flick is turning into September gold for the studio, as this one cost $37 million to make, and now has a total of $49.1 million. Will it play overseas? Maybe. 1993's Free Willy earned the same amount domestically as it did stateside – about $75 million, likely a similar amount as to what Dolphin Tale will end up with.
Fourth is Moneyball, the successful baseball movie starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Moneyball earned $7.5 million in its third weekend, and drops an okay 38%. Likely both Clooney's Ides of March and Jackman's Real Steel may have robbed some audience away from Moneyball. The $50 million film has now earned $49.3 million, so this will likely finish as a safe bet for Sony.