“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public,” goes the famous H.L. Mencken quote, and while the first-place performance of the robot boxing movie Real Steel supports that wisdom to a degree, the actual number reflects a little resistance. At $27.3 million, Real Steel easily topped the $10.4 million earned by George Clooney’s political drama The Ides Of March, but the “Oh, come now, that’s too much” factor may have kept it from the stratosphere, despite the film itself being guiltily enjoyable lizard-brain entertainment. Still, it earned an “A” CinemaScore—the most dubious of dubious metrics, but an indication that the movie is working for people and may have legs. The Ides Of March needed far more critical support than it received to have any chance in a market traditionally wary of political films of any stripe; after premiering to kind-but-unspectacular reviews at Venice and Toronto, and benefitting from little of the all-important Oscar “buzz,” it was more or less dead in the water.
The bloodbath continued at the arthouse, where nothing opened well. Always more persuasive as Internet meme than something to be experienced in the real world, The Human Centipede franchise got mixed returns with The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), which stitched four times as many mouths to asses as the original, yet couldn’t create a fully functioning box office machine. It earned only $3,000 on 18 screens, a paltry sum before you consider that most cities were limited to late-night showings on Friday and Saturday night. Dirty Girl proved a more conspicuous failure: After dropping $3 million on it in 2010 and keeping it on the shelf for over a year, the Weinstein company finally debuted the coming-of-age comedy on nine screens to the tune of $1,944 per screen. The earnest Martin Sheen-Emilio Estevez drama The Way also struggled with $4,012 per screen on 33 screens, despite a Presidential endorsement and a Tasha Robinson interview.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.