The opening at 3,440 locations for the Shawn Levy-directed film was in line with most pre-release expectations — but perhaps a little light for a movie that cost more than $110 million to make. The film also grossed $22.1 million opening in 19 foreign territories, including Australia, Mexico and Russia.
The near-future-set "Real Steel," which stars Hugh Jackman, received an A-plus Cinemascore grade for all younger demographic groups.
"It's a great start relative to our expectations," said Dave Hollis, distribution chief for DreamWorks' distribution partner, Disney; on Thursday, Hollis had put the pre-release bar at around $23 million – $25 million.
With many schools closed for the Columbus Day holiday Monday, Disney and DreamWorks officials are hoping the film's strong exit polling comes into play.
Sony was quick to note that the opening is similar to the October 2007 start for Clooney's "Michael Clayton," which also opened to $10.4 million and ultimately grossed a solid $49 million domestically.
"This picture will have a multiple of around five times, as well," said Sony distirbution president Rory Bruer. "We're in the top of the range we had hoped to be in."
Written by, directed and co-starring Clooney, political drama "The Ides of March" was produced out of Clooney's Smokehouse shingle for around $18 million.
The movie's all-star cast includes Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti.
Reviews were aggregated at around 82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but Cinemascore exit-polling this weekend only pegged the film at a B grade.
About 58 percent of the movie's audience was female, and about 60 percent was over the age of 25.
Full report continues below chart:
Overall, the domestic box office was virtually flat with the same weekend last year (down about 1 percent). Notably, both Disney and Sony crossed the $1 billion mark in domestic revenue over the weekend.
A strong group of holdovers, meanwhile, continues to hold strong, with Warner/Alcon Entertainment's "Dolphin Tale" finishing third with $9.2 million in its third weekend, a week-to-week drop of only around 37 percent for the family film.
Sony's "Moneyball" grossed $7.5 million in its third weekend (down only 40 percent); and Summit's cancer-themed comedy "50/50" cashed in on its good word-of-mouth in weekend No. 2, also dropping less than 40 percent to $5.5 million.
Among limited releases, IFC horror shocker "The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence" grossed about $54,000 playing at 18 late-night engagements, seen only by enough moviegoers to form a nice conga line to the exits.
Notably, Paramount debuted its "Footloose" remake in Australia and New Zealand over the weekend, grossing $1.2 million at 266 locations.
Here's how the top 10 fared:
"Real Steel" ($27.3m)
"The Ides of March" ($10.4m)
"Dolphin Tale" ($9.2m)
"Dream House" ($4.5m)
"The Lion King" ($4.6m)
"What's Your Number" ($3.1m)