Box Office Preview: Julianne Hough, Kenny Wormald Take the Stage in 'Footloose'

6:27 PM PST 10/13/2011 by Pamela McClintock
Paramount

The redo of the 1984 classic dance film has a shot at beating Hugh Jackman starrer "Real Steel" for No. 1; horror pic "The Thing" and Steve Martin-Jack Black-Owen Wilson comedy "The Big Year" also open at the domestic box office.

Dancing teenagers square off with robots at the domestic box office this weekend as Paramount’s Footloose remake enters the market and tries to topple Shawn Levy’s Real Steel from the top spot.

Directed by Craig Brewer, Footloose saw a spike in tracking this week after stars Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough appeared on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday night, followed Wednesday by Footloose promotions on the Home Shopping Network.

PHOTOS: Julianne Hough and Her Co-Stars Fete 'Footloose'

Paramount now believes Footloose has a fighting chance at No. 1, on the strength of both teenage girls and women in their 30s and 40s who grew up on the classic 1984 Footloose, which catapulted Kevin Bacon to fame.

Footloose should open in the $15 million range -- and higher if word-of-mouth is good. That puts it in the same league as DreamWorks’ Real Steel, which opened to $27.3 million last weekend and has enjoyed good midweek business (the film’s cume through Wednesday was $34 million).

Paramount has been aggressively screening Footloose to various groups, including cheerleading squads and youth groups. The pic opens in 3,549 theaters and cost $24 million to produce.

VIDEO: Blake Shelton's 'Footloose' Music Video Premieres

The first Footloose, which opened Feb. 17, 1984, debuted to $8.6 million and cumed $80 million domestically.

Universal will try to get a jump on Halloween this weekend with sci-fi horror pic The Thing, a prequel to John Carpenter’s 1972 movie of the same name, and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton. The Thing opens in 2,997 theaters.

Horror films often draw teenage girls, but since The Thing is rated R, it is tracking best among males. Box-office observers expect the movie to open in the $11 million-$13 million range.

Universal is distributing The Thing overseas for Morgan Creek, which owns the international rights. The pic opens this weekend in Australia, France, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

VIDEO: 'The Thing' Trailer Hits With Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Like Footloose, The Thing has picked up strength in tracking this week, particularly among younger males. Males over 25 remain the strongest quadrant.

Expectations are low for the weekend’s third new entry, Fox 2000’s adult comedy The Big Year, starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson. Directed by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada), Fox is predicting only a $3 million-$5 million opening for the movie.

Based on Howard Franklin’s nonfiction book about a 12-month contest to identify the most species of birds in North America, Big Year also stars Rosamund Pike, Rashida Jones, Anjelica Huston, JoBeth Williams and Brian Dennehy.

VIDEO: Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black Star in 'The Big Year' Trailer

Fox insiders say the movie, which goes out in 2,150, has had a difficult time finding traction.

At the specialty box office, Sony Pictures Classics launches Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In, starring Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya, in six theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

Anchor Bay Films opens Texas Killing Fields, starring Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chloe Moretz, in three theaters in New York and L.A.

British comedy Chalet Girl, starring Felicity Jones and Bill Nighy, opens in one theater in New York. IFC is distributing the film.

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