'80s Weekend Dulls Overall Box Office
By John Hamann
October 16, 2011
Twenty-seven years ago, a little film about dancing in a small town somehow caught the public's attention and opened to $8 million over a late February weekend. It was instantly a huge financial success, as it had a budget of only $8.2 million and went on to earn $80 million domestically over its run, staying in the top 11 for 16 weekends. Flash forward a quarter-century, and the remake is upon us, not looking too much different than the 1984 original. 1982's The Thing is also back this weekend, this time a prequel to the Kurt Russell sci-fi thriller. Buried under classics like ET and Blade Runner when it came out, The Thing gets buried again this weekend, this time by the likes of Real Steel. Snake Pliskin's words in Escape From LA come to mind - “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.
Repeating in first place is Real Steel, the Hugh Jackman movie about fighting robots. In its second weekend, Real Steel performed like every other film in the top ten this weekend – unspectacularly – as it earned $16.3 million from 3,440 venues. It was off 40%, which is much too high for a supposed crowd-pleaser, but at least above 50%, which would have hurt this rather expensive film. Real Steel was made for a ridiculously high $110 million, an amount it will not see from the domestic box office. In fact, at this point, it looks like Real Steel may cave in with about $85 million. So far, the DreamWorks made/Disney distributed film has earned $51.7 million.
Our second place film is Footloose, and unlike The Lion King, this one was actually re-made, but from the trailers, appears to be exactly the same thing some of us saw 27 years ago. The Footloose remake earned an okay but unexciting $16.1 million from 3,549 venues. It had a venue average of $4,536. This one stars Kenny Wormald (credited as "Dancer" in Clerks II, You Got Served, and The Drew Carey Show) as Ren MacCormack, the role made famous by Kevin Bacon, who had already been in Animal House and Diner prior to Footloose, and Julianne Hough (Burlesque) as Ariel. Dennis Quaid looks out of place as the preacher who outlaws dancing, and Andie MacDowell is the preacher's wife, roles once played by John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest, two people who actually looked like their roles.
If you are sensing I am feeling this version of Footloose is unneccessary, you're right, but the good news here is that Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow) actually put a fairly good movie together, at least in the world of crticial reviews and Cinemscores. RottenTomatoes scores were telling. Footloose earned a fresh 73% rating from all crtics, with 97 reviews to the good, and 36 to the bad. Top Critics listed at the site had a different opinion. Thirty-two "top critic" reviews were counted, and were split almost down the middle, leaving Footloose at a rotten 53%. Brewer obviously found that middle ground – making a crowd pleasing film (it earned an A Cinemscore) that didn't completely turn off the critics.