Score one for original movie concepts.
The boxing robots of "Real Steel" delivered their second knockout in two weeks at the domestic box office, with the DreamWorks movie taking in an estimated $16.3 million this weekend and dropping only 40 percent from its premiere. That impressive second-weekend performance narrowly beat Paramount's "Footloose" remake at the box office, according to preliminary Sunday data.
Complete data -- and confirmation of "Real Steel's" box office victory -- will be available Monday morning.
Written and directed by Craig Brewer, and shot on a modest budget of just $24 million, the remake of the 1984 Kevin Bacon youth film "Footloose" matched Paramount's stated pre-release expectations. It did not, however, beat estimates outside the studio, which called for an opening closer -- or even over -- $20 million.
The remake did get an "A" grade from moviegoer survey firm Cinemascore, however.
Meanwhile, Universal's prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 sci-fi/horror film "The Thing" debuted to a soft $8.7 million.
The other movie that opened to wide release this weekend, Fox comedy "The Big Year," was a big disappointment, grossing a meager $3.3 million, according to studio estimates. That put it in ninth place.
Among holdovers, George Clooney/Ryan Gosling film "The Ides of March" dropped a mere 28 percent from its debut weekend, grossing $7.5 million, studio estimates show. That put the Sony political drama in fourth place for the weekend and gave it a cumulative gross of $22.1 million.
Sony's "The Smurfs," meanwhile, passed another overseas benchmark, grossing an estimated $4.5 million, and pushing its total foreign gross to $403.5 overseas -- and $542 million worldwide.
Opening on six screens in New York and Los Angeles, Sony Classic's "The Skin I Live In" grossed an estimated $224,000. The Pedro Almodovar film stars Antonio Banderas.
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The overall North American box office was soft, though -- off 31 percent compared to last year, when "Jackass 3D" opened to $50 million.
"Footloose" did best in the nation's heartland, Don Harris, Paramount's executive VP for distribution, told TheWrap.
"The center of the country and the South outperformed L.A. and New York," Harris said, continuing that the film's highest-grossing cities were Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City.
"It's an unusual pattern," he said. "L.A. and New York are such a big part of the domestic marketplace that ... this is an aberration."
And he said that the movie appealed especially well to girls and their mothers. "You had 27 percent of the audience that was under 18, so you got teenagers, but you also had 20 percent who were women between 35 and 50," he said. "When you've got a movie that's playing equally well to teenagers and their moms ... the movie's got a nice future."
Universal's R-rated horror film "The Thing" gave that studio less reason for hope.
The movie, which had a budget of $38 million, was projected to gross in the low double-digits -- somewhere between $11 million and $14 million.
"The Thing" is a prequel to Carpenter's 1982 classic. And the '82 movie was a remake of the 1951 "The Thing from Another World." Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. directed the movie, which received a Cinemascore of B-minus.
And it didn't play particularly well anywhere.
"It's hard to look at these numbers and not wish for bigger box office results," Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of distribution, told TheWrap.
Rocco acknowledged that it was a poor opening and noted that the weekend box office in general was soft.
The worst opening of the weekend, however, was at Fox.
That studio's PG birdwatching comedy "The Big Year" only managed to take in $3.32 million. That's on a $41 million budget.
David Frankel's movie stars Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black -- and was not projected to break double-digits.
It also got a B-minus Cinemascore.
The boxing robots of "Real Steel" were the bright spot of the weekend.
Dave Hollis, distribution chief for DreamWorks' distribution partner, Disney, told TheWrap, it only dropped about 40 percent over its debut last week.
"We're appealling so well to families," he said. "Parents and especially moms are finding it particularly relevant and interesting for the kids."
Going into the weekend, Disney expected the film to gross between $15 million and $17 million, so the projections were spot-on.
The movie had a budget of $110 million, and its global gross crossed $100 million Saturday, reaching $108 million.
Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office:
"Real Steel" ($16.3M)
"The Thing" ($8.7M)
"The Ides of March" ($7.5M"
"Dolphin Tale" $6.34M)
"The Big Year" ($3.32M)
"The Lion King 3D" (2.7M)