"Real Steel" racked up an estimated $ 39.6 million in global ticket sales over three days, distributor Walt Disney Co said on Sunday. The film earned $ 16.3 million of that total from U.S. and Canadian theaters.
"Footloose," the story of teenagers who defy their small town's ban on dancing, was close behind with $ 16.1 million from U.S. and Canadian theaters.
Appeal to families helped "Real Steel" come out on top, said Dave Hollis, Disney's executive vice president for motion picture sales and distribution. The DreamWorks-produced film stars Hugh Jackman as a father who bonds with his son as they restore a robot to fight for a boxing championship.
To date, the movie has earned $ 51.7 million at North American theaters plus $ 56.6 million in international markets, for a combined global tally of $ 108.3 million.
The "Footloose" debut performed in line with studio expectations and earned an A rating from audiences polled by survey firm CinemaScore, said Don Harris, president of domestic distribution for Paramount Pictures, which released the film.
The remake, which cost about $ 24 million to make, features Dennis Quaid as a local preacher and lesser-known actors in the lead teenager roles. Kevin Bacon starred in the original 1984 hit.
SLOW WEEKEND AT THEATERS
In third place for the weekend, horror flick "The Thing" grabbed a weak $ 8.7 million. The film, a prequel to a 1982 hit, centers on a team of scientists who travel to Antarctica to investigate an alien creature. The movie's production cost about $ 38 million.
Nikki Rocco, president of distribution for Universal Pictures, noted other horror films had struggled lately and said the box office "was relatively soft this weekend" overall.
Sales for the top 12 movies came in 34 percent lower than the same weekend last year, according to figures from Hollywood.com Box Office.
Political drama "The Ides of March," directed by and co-starring George Clooney, pulled in $ 7.5 million during its second weekend in theaters to finish in fourth place. Clooney also co-wrote the film about moral choices during a tight primary contest between two politicians running for president.
In fifth place was "Dolphin Tale," a feel-good movie based on the true story of an injured dolphin rehabilitated with a prosthetic tail. The film brought in $ 6.3 million domestically over the weekend.
New comedy "The Big Year" was a flop. The film, starring comedy heavyweights Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black as bird-watching buddies, landed in ninth place with just $ 3.3 million domestically.
"It's a high-quality film with a talented cast. We just missed," said Bruce Snyder, president of domestic distribution for distributor 20th Century Fox.
Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc, released ''Footloose." "Real Steel" was produced by DreamWorks and distributed by Walt Disney Co. Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp, distributed "The Thing." Sony Corp unit Columbia Pictures released "The Ides of March." "The Big Year" was distributed by News Corp unit 20th Century Fox, and "Dolphin Tale" was released by Time Warner Inc unit Warner Bros.