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Your Box Office Explained: Real Steel Is for Real

This Weekend’s Winners: Hugh Jackman, whose Real Steel (No. 1 with $27.3 million) proved he can open a movie that doesn’t have him sporting spandex and shish kebabs, and George Clooney, whose pessimistic peek at politics The Ides of March (No. 2 with $10.4 million) similarly improved on its first night's numbers.

This Weekend’s Loser: Daniel Craig. Another season, another bomb. After Cowboys & Aliens stalled south of $100 million domestically this summer, his Dream House looks like it may not even crawl to $20 million here in the States: The thriller lost nearly half (46 percent) of its audience, making just $4.46 million in its second weekend.

How It All Went Down: For the first time since July, the top two films were actually new releases, a sign that both Real Steel and The Ides of March finally offered something to unleash all that pent-up demand. And as we said, both movies improved their audiences by nearly a quarter come Saturday night: Real Steel jumping 27 percent, and The Ides of March surging 23% — a sure sign that popcorn audiences gleefully ignore critics as much as arthouse folk hold by them. (The Rotten Tomatoes index was just 59 percent fresh for Real Steel, while Ides was 82 percent fresh.)

Elsewhere, Moneyball grossed $7.5 million, meaning it lost only a little more than a third of its audience (38 percent) in its third weekend. So, too, cancer comedy 50/50, which dipped only 36 percent from its last outing, grossed $5.5 million. Heck, even A Dolphin Tale slipped only by a third (34 percent) in its third weekend with $9.2 million, good enough for third place.

Given that the original The Human Centipede earned all of $182,000 in theaters last year, Tom Six's sequel is simultaneously a thing which should be both ignored and, of course, something from which we cannot look away. The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence debuted to an estimated $54,000 from eighteen locations its opening weekend, as much a measure of powerful anti-nausea medication like Compazine as the film's own unique brand of ultrahorror. It's $3,000 per theater average would be totally unremarkable except for the fact that it (a) played in late or midnight showings only on Friday and Saturday, (b) grossed more per theater than either Anna Faris's What's Your Number? and Taylor Lautner's Abduction.

Photo: DreamWorks Pictures