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‘Real Steel’ Leads Box Office With $27.3 Million in Sales

“Real Steel,” the action tale featuring boxing robots, was the top film at U.S. and Canadian theaters, generating $27.3 million in ticket sales for Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks SKG and Walt Disney Co.

The other new weekend release, the political thriller “The Ides of March,” was second with $10.5 million, researcher Box-Office said today in a statement. “Dolphin Tale,” in first place last weekend, dropped to third place with ticket sales of $9.1 million.

“Real Steel,” inspired by Richard Matheson’s short story, stars Hugh Jackman as an absentee father who trains robots for the ring. The visual effects-laden film, with Spielberg as executive producer, had the third-biggest opening ever for a Columbus Day weekend movie, said Gitesh Pandya, chief executive officer at movie-tracker

“Breaking $25 million in October is something you don’t see too often,” Pandya said in a telephone interview. “There hasn’t been a big action movie since the summer, and I think action audiences have been craving something like this.”

The film, in which Jackman plays a trainer who buys an outdated boxing robot, is a good sign for DreamWorks, which had disappointing results with movies earlier this year, Pandya said. It rebounded recently with “The Help,” a civil rights-era drama that’s taken in $163 million, he said.

Matheson’s Legend

“Real Steel,” which also features Dakota Goyo as Jackman’s son, is one of several Matheson works to be adapted to the screen. Others include the novel “I Am Legend,” which became the basis for the 2007 Will Smith thriller.

“The Ides of March” features Ryan Gosling as the idealistic press secretary to a governor, played by George Clooney, who aspires to be president. Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Evan Rachel Wood co-star.

The film, distributed by Sony Corp., has garnered talk of possible Oscar nominations, giving it a chance for sustained sales, Pandya said. Clooney’s pictures typically take in $10 million to $15 million in their first weekends and have to contend with the star’s high-profile liberal politics, Pandya said.

“There are many people in America who do not want to see his films and a lot of people who love him,” Pandya said. “It is an older-skewing film and the reviews have been good, so I think it should have some good legs ahead of it.”

‘Dolphin Tale’

“Dolphin Tale,” which placed third, stars Harry Connick Jr. and Morgan Freeman. The film is based on the true story of a dolphin whose tail was amputated after becoming entangled in a crab trap. It has taken in $49 million since its release.

Sony’s “Moneyball,” the baseball movie starring Brad Pitt, came in fourth, with $7.5 million in sales.

“50/50,” the Summit Entertainment LLC film about a young man who has cancer, was fifth with $5.7 million in its second weekend. In the movie, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character confides to a friend, played by Seth Rogen, that he has been diagnosed with the disease. Anna Kendrick co-stars as a therapist who tries to help the patient cope with his situation.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films climbed 4.7 percent to $85.1 million from a year earlier, said. Domestic box-office receipts this year have declined 3.4 percent to $8.11 billion. Attendance is down 5.4 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Oct. 7 through yesterday.

                     Rev.             Avg./    Pct.    Total
Movie               (mln) Theaters  Theater    Chg.    (mln) Wks
 1 REAL STEEL       $27.3    3,440   $7,942     --    $27.3    1
 2 IDES OF MARCH     10.5    2,199    4,761     --     10.5    1
 3 DOLPHIN TALE       9.1    3,478    2,625    -34     49.0    3
 4 MONEYBALL          7.5    3,018    2,470    -38     49.2    3
 5 50/50              5.7    2,479    2,280    -35     17.5    2
 6 COURAGEOUS         4.9    1,161    4,193    -46     16.2    2
 7 LION KING (3-D)    4.6    2,267    2,028    -57     86.0    4
 8 DREAM HOUSE        4.5    2,664    1,680    -45     14.5    2
 9 WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER 3.1    3,011    1,038    -42     10.4    2
10 CONTAGION          2.9    2,250    1,308    -40     69.0    5
11 ABDUCTION          2.9    2,591    1,117    -48     23.4    3
12 KILLER ELITE       2.2    2,411      913    -55     21.6    3

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $85.1 $81.3 +4.7

Year-to-date Revenue

2011 2010 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $8,109 $8,390 -3.4 Year-to-date Attendance: -5.4%

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