John Young
October 08, 2011 AT 06:31 PM EDT

Humans’ fascination with our future overlords — robots — continued Friday as the sci-fi/action/family drama Real Steel topped the box office with $8.6 million, according to early estimates.

DreamWorks’ $110 million flick, which is being distributed by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, is on track for a $26 million opening weekend. That’s a decent start for the genre-mixing PG-13 film. More importantly, it’s a reassuring debut for star Hugh Jackman, who has struggled to open movies in which he doesn’t sport adamantium claws. Demographic data hasn’t been released yet, but it’ll be interesting to see whether Jackman’s hunky presence and the emotional father-son storyline drew in a female audience that typically leaves robot-worshiping to 10-year-old boys.

In second place was George Clooney’s new political thriller The Ides of March, which registered $3.5 million on Friday. Clooney directed and co-wrote the well-reviewed film, and stars in a top-notch ensemble that includes Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, and Marisa Tomei. The $12.5 million Oscar hopeful should finish the weekend with about $11 million, which would place it on par with the wide-release debuts for Michael Clayton ($10.4 million) and Up in the Air ($11.3 million).

The rest of the top five consisted of holdovers that held up particularly well. The family film Dolphin Tale slipped just 31 percent for $2.4 million, and is on track for a $10 million weekend. In fourth, the Brad Pitt baseball drama Moneyball dropped 42 percent for $2.2 million, with sabermetic projections pointing to a $7.5 million weekend. And the R-rated cancer dramedy 50/50 fell only 38 percent for $1.8 million. The Christian drama Courageous, however, plummeted 55 percent for $1.4 million on Friday. Still, the movie is already a success, having so far grossed $12.7 million on a $2 million budget.

Check back on Sunday for the complete box-office report.

1. Real Steel — $8.6 mil

2. The Ides of March — $3.5 mil

3. Dolphin Tale — $2.4 mil

4. Moneyball — $2.2 mil

5. 50/50 — $1.8 mil

6. Courageous — $1.4 mil

Box office preview: Real Steel to rock and sock the competition

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