Friday Box Office: ‘Footloose’ Soft-Shoes Its Way to Disappointing $5.4M

Paramount dance-movie remake only on pace for around $15M; Universal's “Thing” frozen at around $9M

Updated Saturday, 8:43 a.m. PT

It's shaping up to be a grim weekend at the box office.

Paramount's "Footloose" grossed an estimated $5.4 million on Friday, putting in on pace to dance to the No. 1 spot with $15 million, according to rival-studio estimates.

But it's a slow dance, well behind the $20 million-plus pace box-office outside Paramount had predicted.

Universal's "The Thing" took in an estimated $3.2 million Friday, and preliminary estimates have it grossing only about $9 million for the weekend — enough to make it the No. 3 movie.

The other new film in wide release, Fox's comedy "The Big Year," looks like the big flop. It's estimated to have grossed only $1.1 million on Friday. If projections prove true, it'll take in only $3.4 million this weekend — putting it at No. 8.

The bright spot: the DreamWorks boxing robot movie "Real Steel," which grossed an estimated $4.4 million on Friday and is on track to take in $14.9 million in its second weekend in release.

The 45 percent decline from last week puts the movie at No. 2 for the weekend.

Earlier:

The box office is set to party like it's the early-1980s this weekend, with two titles based on three-decade-old properties going wide.

Paramount's "the kids gotta dance" flick "Footloose" is set to lead the market, with outside-studio estimates coming in as high as $24 million, while Universal's killer space-alien thriller "The Thing" trailing closely behind.

Also opening wide: Fox’s “The Big Year,” a David Frankel-directed comedy starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin.

Pedro Almodovar's "The Skin I Live In" will be the highlight of a slate of smaller releases. The film stars Antonio Banderas and is distributed by Sony Classics. It will launch in six L.A. and NYC arthouse locations.

Also Read: Review: 'Footloose' Remake a Pleasant, If Cornball, Surprise

"Footloose,” Craig Brewer’s PG-13 remake of Paramount's 1984 dance classic starring Kevin Bacon and Sarah Jessica Parker, opens in 3,549 North American locations.

Paramount expects the movie, which has a budget of $24 million, to open in the mid-teens, in line with other youth-oriented dance films like “Step Up 3D,” which opened to $15.8 million in August 2010.

In lieu of Bacon and Parker, we get the defiant chemistry of youngsters Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough, which critics have collectively liked enough in pre-release screenings to generate a solid 71 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Old fogies Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell will attempt to chaperone. 

Also Read: Review: Almodovar's Latest Will Make Your 'Skin' Crawl

While they weren't even born yet when the first "Footloose" hit theaters, women and girls under the age of 25 represent the film's strongest audience group, with 90 percent of the demo reporting awareness of some kind with the movie, according to research firm NRG.

Among that quadrant, 48 percent report "definite interest" in seeing the film, and a fancy 22 percent say it's their "first choice" to see next time they're in a theater.

Some box office watchers outside the studio peg "Footloose's" opening at over $20 million, but the studio's more conservative guidance is in the mid-teens.

Meanwhile, "The Thing," Universal's prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 sci-fi classic, will open in 2,997 domestic locations.

Co-financed with Morgan Creek at a cost of around $38 million, the latest "Thing" was directed by Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr., son of the Dutch producer. His cultural upbringing was no doubt helpful in informing a story about a doomed Norwegian scientific camp in the Antarctic — the same one that Carpenter's '82 film paid reference to in its beginning.

The film's largely no-name cast does include Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton.

Horror movies have underperformed at the box office this year, but Universal is betting that “The Thing” — the first thriller-horror of the Halloween season — will end that trend

Although reviews have been soft — 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — the R-rated horror film's strongest tracking comes from men older than 25. According to NRG, awareness of "The Thing" is 72 percent among that group, with 36 percent reporting definite interest and 9 percent calling it their first choice.

Trackers outside the studio predict an opening in the mid- to high-teens for "The Thing," while inside the studio, the call is more in the $11 million – $14 million range.

Fox’s PG-rated “The Big Year” has big potential … to bomb.

Also Read: Review: Owen Wilson's Bird-Watching 'Big Year' Neither Soars Nor Lays an Egg

Co-financed by Fox and Dune Entertainment at a cost of around $41 million and debuting in 2,149 locations, the enemble comedy about competitive bird watchers isn't expected to break double figures this weekend.

Reviews have been middling, with Rotten Tomatoes scoring the movie at 50 percent.

Finally, among holdovers, there's Hugh Jackman near-futuristic action film "Real Steel."

The DreamWorks picture about boxing robots — actually a family film about a father and his son – took in $27.3 million last weekend. 

The film's midweek numbers, however, have been strong, and box-office watchers predict a weekend-to-weekend decline of well below the usual 50 percent.