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Weekend Wrap-Up: Real Steel Dances Its Way to a Tight First Place Finish

October 17th, 2011

This past weekend was one the industry would love to forget. It was one of the worst weekend of the entire year. The total box office haul was just $88 million, which was 7.5% lower than last weekend and an absolute stunning 33% lower than the same weekend last year. A year-over-year discrepancy like that usually only occurs when there's a misalignment in the calendar. (Summer starting a week later than it did the year before. A major holiday falling a week later than it did the year before. Halloween or Christmas Day landing on the weekend.) It was so bad, that the top five films this year barely made more than Jackass 3D opened with last year. Footloose was the only new release that made any real impact, but it wasn't enough to overtake Real Steel on top of the chart. Meanwhile, 2011 lost more ground to 2010 and it is now down by 4% at $8.23 billion to $8.56 billion. If we are to see a recovery, it will have to happen really fast.

Real Steel landed near the high end of expectations with $16.29 million over the weekend for a total of $51.73 million after two. The film cost $110 million to make and there's only a slim chance the film will reach that mark domestically. However, it is performing even better internationally, so breaking even before it reaches the home market is within reach.

It's hard to spin the opening weekend box office for Footloose in a positive way. It earned second place with $15.56 million, which would be good if the film was playing counter-programing to a blockbuster. For instance, this time last year Red made $21.76 million. However, Footloose practically had the box office all to itself. Its per theater average isn't bad and I don't think theater owners will be dumping it as soon as possible, and maybe the good reviews will translate into strong legs. At least it didn't cost a lot to make and it will break even sooner rather than later.

The Thing was mostly a non-factor at the box office, earning $8.49 million during its opening weekend. With weak reviews and a genre that historically has short legs, there's little hope for this film's chances in coming weeks. Hopefully it didn't cost too much to make.

Ides of March landed in fourth place with $7.11 million over the weekend and $21.76 million after two. It fell just 32% during its sophomore stint, but it is still below expectations so far.

Dolphin Tale, on the other hand, is a surprisingly strong hit with $58.76 million at the box office, including $6.23 million this past weekend. It should finish with more than its combined production and P&A budget, and depending on what it does internationally, it could break even before it reaches the home market.

The final new release of the week was The Big Year, but it was an unmitigated disaster with just $3.25 million during its opening week. This was only enough for ninth place on the chart, plus its per theater average was well below the Mendoza Line. It's reviews are bad, which will likely result in a sharp drop-off next weekend, while theater owners will be looking to drop the film as soon as they are contractually able to.


Filed under: Weekend Box Office, Footloose, The Thing, Dolphin Tale, The Big Year, Real Steel, The Ides of March