“Real Steel” Box Office Champ in Round 2

Apparently America really likes robots punching each other’s bolted brains out in the year 2020.

“Real Steel,” the Hugh Jackman flick about 2,000-pound robot boxers in the “near future,” won the top spot at the box office for a second straight weekend with $16.3 million, placing it just ahead of the “Footloose” remake with $16.1 million.

The figures are close enough that the two movies could switch spots when the weekend’s final numbers are released Monday, The Associated Press noted.

Surprisingly enough, “Real Steel” is playing strong with families, increasing its business 62 percent from Friday to Saturday thanks to them, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In the movie, former boxer Charlie Kenton (Jackman) reunites with his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) to build and coach a robot contender named Atom.

“The fact that we're appealing to families makes all the difference in this landscape," Disney executive Dave Hollis said.

The Disney Touchstone Pictures-DreamWorks collaboration has grossed $51.7 million in its 10-day domestic run, and $56.6 million overseas. It cost $110 million to make, so it still has some rounds to go before it turns a profit.

But Paramount, which released “Footloose,” was confident that it would finish ahead of “Real Steel” when all was said and done, the AP reported.

Head of distribution Don Harris said the dance-crazy remake starring Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough was doing especially well in the Midwest and South, and Paramount hoped those rural crowds would turn out strong Sunday.

“If we get that middle of the country that seems to be preoccupied with high school football on Friday and college football on Saturday, then it bodes well not only for a big Sunday but for the legs of the movie,” Harris said.

“Footloose” is buoyed by an audience that is three-quarters female, and an “A” CinemaScore.

Universal’s new version of “The Thing” opened in No. 3 with $8.7 million, which industry cognoscenti deemed a disappointment.

George Clooney’s “The Ides of March” dropped only 28 percent in its second weekend with a box office take of $7.5 million, but it fell from second to fourth place in the rankings.

Right behind it was the family-friendly “Dolphin Tale,” which dropped 31 percent to $6.3 million. Its running total is $58.7 million. “Moneyball” was No. 6 with $5.5 million, and has brought in a similar total, $57.7 million.

The biggest bomb of the weekend was “The Big Year,” a 20th Century Fox comedy about bird watching with Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson. It cost $28 million to make and earned only $3.3 million in its debut – just $600,000 more than “The Lion King” took in in the fifth weekend of its 3D rerelease.

Selected Reading: Hollywood Reporter, AP, Entertainment Weekly, Box Office Mojo

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