“Real Steel” wins the weekend with $27 million

By Scott Mendelson

HollywoodNews.com:There were two major releases this weekend, and both of them more-or-less did what was expected of them. Disney/Dreamworks unleashed the robot-boxing/father-son drama Real Steel, which easily topped the weekend. Of course, as always, ranking is irrelevant except for their use in second-week ads, so the real question is whether or not its $27.3 million debut is a good number. First of all, the film scored a solid A from Cinemascore, with an A+ from audiences under 25 (which again, only means something if it opens well in the first place). Second of all, the film indeed did play like a family film, with an $8.5 million Friday giving way to a solid 3.2x weekend multiplier (family films generally see a boost on Saturday as the kids flood the matinees). The weekend multiplier and audience polling could mean that the Hugh Jackman film will have decent legs as the family film of choice until Puss In Boots opens on October 28th (yes, by moving the film one week up, Dreamworks Animation/Paramount has potentially hurt Dreamworks/Disney). As for whether or not the film is a hit at this point (check out the movie that it seems to oddly resemble HERE), that depends on who you ask about the film’s budget.

The official word from director Shawn Levy is a bit over $80 million, while others (possibly rival studio-executives) are screaming anywhere from $110 million to $140 million. The film certainly may be on the cheaper end as the only special effects elements appear to be the CGI robots, which represent a relatively self-contained special effect (think the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, where only the actual CGI critters pump up the budget). Anyway, if the film ends up with legs (hard to predict in this front-loaded age) and/or does its killing overseas (it’s done $49 million worldwide thus far), then this budget talk will be irrelevant. The film had surprisingly decent reviews but had to deal with the fact that the premise itself (Rock Em Sock Em Robots: The Movie!) was so patently goofy that it became a classic example of a ‘No wait, it’s really good!’ movie. By that I mean, it was a movie that had the disadvantage of being presumed terrible by all but the core young-boy audience for one reason or another before it was even screened.

To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos

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