Audiences were in the mood for Hugh Jackman as a disillusioned ex-boxer who trains a robot fighter and reconnects with his son. Buena Vista distributed the DreamWorks feature.

Real Steel had little trouble overcoming the challenge of George Clooney’s recent Venice opener The Ides Of March, which debuted through Sony in second place on $10.4m.

Cross Creek Pictures financed the political thriller, in which the director stars alongside Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Last weekend’s champion Dolphin Tale slipped to number three on $9.2m, while Sony’s Moneyball at number four starring Brad Pitt has grossed $49.3m Both are in their third weekend.

Mandate’s cancer comedy 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen held firm at number five in the second weekend and has taken $17.3m through Summit, while Fox’s Anna Faris comedy What’s Your Number? fell one place to number nine in its second weekend and has taken $10.3m.

Omnilab Media’s Killer Elite released through Open Road Films dropped to number 12 in the third weekend on a disappointing $21.6m.

IFC Films launched The Human Centipede: Full Sequence on $54,000 from 18 theatres, while TWC opened Toronto 2010 favourite Dirty Girl in nine on $17,500.

Next weekend’s wide releases are: Paramount’s Footloose remake with Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough, directed by Craig Brewer; Universal’s sci-fi horror The Thing starring Joel Edgerton and Mary Elizabeth Winstead; and Fox’s comedy The Big Year starring jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Rashida Jones.

Estimated Top 10 North America Oct 7-9, 2011
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Real Steel (DreamWorks-Buena Vista) WDSMPI $27.3m –

2 (-) The Ides Of March (Sony) Exclusive Films Int’l $10.4m –

3 (1) Dolphin Tale (Warner Bros) WBPI $9.2m $49.1m

4 (2) Moneyball (Sony) SPRI $7.5m $49.3m

5 (5 ) 50/50 (Summit) Lionsgate $5.5m $17.3m

6 (4) Courageous (TriStar) SPRI $4.6m $15.9m

7 (3) The Lion King (In 3D) (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $4.6m $85.9m

8 (6) Dream House (Universal) Morgan Creek Int’l $4.5m $14.5m

9 (8) What’s Your Number? (Fox) Fox Int’l $3.1m $10.3m

10 (7) Abduction (Lionsgate) Lionsgate $2.9m $23.4m