Dancing Teens Slain by Robots

Though they had spirit and moxie and other youthful energies on their side, the kids of Footloose proved no match for Real Steel's battle bots in the box office arena. RIP, Ren.

1) Real Steel — $16.3M
Robutts! Who knew that America had such a love affair with robutts. What most people should view as mechanical monsters hellbent on strangling them with their automaton claws are instead viewed as charming battle friends that are good for the whole family. It's a very strange thing, this love of machine people. Or maybe that's not why families are going to see this movie. Maybe if you went to a movie theater and approached a family and said to their son, "Hello little boy, why do you want to see Real Steel this weekend?" He would reply, "Why for Hugh Jackman of course! He was so funny in Kate & Leopold and so dark in The Prestige, and I'm hoping this performance will be a combination of those two things." Perhaps that's what that little boy would say! Perhaps Hugh Jackman is the real draw, and not those terrifying metal beasts. I'd like to believe that about Americans. That we still know who our enemies are, as we once did.

2) Footloose — $16.1M
So, OK, this didn't actually get creamed by Real Steel at all, but it was still a buzzed-about debut that failed to beat the family robot movie in its second week. Basically this is did about as well as just another dance movie rather than being the teen sensation of the weekend folks were hoping it would be. I guess that's the peril of your biggest star being Dennis Quaid. I mean, people like Dennis Quaid, but I'm not sure he's hanging in any girls' lockers anymore. (Was he ever?) I wonder if this would have done better with Zac Efron, as was originally planned. I mean, we all know it would have done worse with Chace Crawford, who replaced Efron. Oh god, can you imagine Chace Crawford in this movie? I kind of hope the DVD has his screen tests and stuff. "What? You can't dance here? You have got to be kidding me. He shakes his head in disbelief." "No, Chace, no, you don't read the stage directions." "Got it. Moving on. Daddy, I'm not a little girl anymore." "Chace, no, nope, you only read the Ren parts, not the Ariel parts." "But I like the Ariel parts. Can I wear red boots too? I want to wear red boots." "Oh great, he's gonna be on about this for the rest of the afternoon. Someone call Penn and have him come pick him up."

3) The Thing — $8.7M
It looks like mostly the girlfriends won the movie war this weekend, as about only half as many boyfriends got their way and went to see The Thing this weekend as got dragged to the dance movie. But those that did get to see this horror "prequel" were lucky enough to be able to make hilarious "Thing" jokes in the car on the way home ("Want to see my Thing," etc), just ha ha just kidding around, but secretly desperately hoping she'd play along and be fun and sexy just this one time. But no, instead she said "Stop it, you're gross," and turned to look out the window at all the other cars going by and he sighed and turned the radio on and "All Out of Love" was playing and the new October chill seemed to seep in through the air vents.

9) The Big Year — $3.3M
Yikes. Though opening in far fewer screens than this week's other wide releases, and suffering from a complete lack of an advertising campaign, this movie still did a lot worse than I thought it would. I mean, I knew it would do badly, it's a rare event that a bird watching comedy does anything but terribly, but oof. Jack Black has not had a good run of it lately, nor has Owen Wilson (except for Midnight in Paris). I keep saying, if only they'd released this movie like seven years ago, they'd probably be in business. But alas it is 2011 and those heady early aughts days are long gone, dried up and blown away like leaves from the trees. Sigh.

20) The Skin I Live In — $231K
With a whopping $38k per screen, this new Pedro Almodóvar movie has probably already been a better success for Antonio Banderas than the last six Melanie Griffith projects combined. I credit the bizarrely mesmerizing music in the trailer for piquing people's interest so. That weird music was in my head all weekend for some reason. It probably signals some descent into Spanish madness, but who can really be sure. Now if you'll excuse me I've got experiments to go do. Found a new hobby!