Real Steel

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Real Steel
Hugh Jackman in character in a boxing pose in front of a large boxing robot in a similar pose.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Shawn Levy
Produced by Shawn Levy
Susan Montford
Don Murphy
Screenplay by John Gatins
Story by Dan Gilroy
Jeremy Leven
Based on Steel 
by Richard Matheson
Starring Hugh Jackman
Dakota Goyo
Evangeline Lilly
Anthony Mackie
Kevin Durand
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Mauro Fiore
Edited by Dean Zimmerman
Production
  company
Touchstone Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures
Reliance Entertainment
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date(s)
  • September 6, 2011 (2011-09-06) (Paris premiere)
  • October 7, 2011 (2011-10-07) (United States)
Running time 127 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $110 million[2]
Box office $299,268,508[3]

Real Steel is a 2011 American science fiction sports drama film starring Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo, co-produced and directed by Shawn Levy for DreamWorks Pictures. The film is based on the short story Steel - written by Richard Matheson, which was originally published in the May 1956 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and later adapted into a 1963 Twilight Zone episode, though screenwriter John Gatins placed the film in U.S. state fairs and other "old-fashioned" Americana settings. Real Steel was in development for several years before production began on June 24 2010. Filming took place primarily in the U.S. state of Michigan. Animatronic robots were built for the film, and motion capture technology was used to depict the brawling of computer-generated robots and animatronics.

Real Steel was theatrically released by Touchstone Pictures in Australia on October 6, 2011, and in the United States and Canada on October 7, 2011, grossing nearly $300 million at the box office and received to mixed to positive reviews; with mixed reaction to the plot, yet praise to the visual effects, action sequences and acting performances. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 84th Academy Awards, but lost to Hugo.

Plot[edit]

In 2020, human boxers are replaced by robots. Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), a former boxer, owns the robot "Ambush", but loses it in an arranged fight against a bull belonging to promoter and carnival owner Ricky (Kevin Durand), who sees Charlie as a joke, partially because he beat up Charlie the last time they butted heads. Having made a bet that Ambush would win, Charlie now has a debt to Ricky.

After the fight, Charlie learns that his ex-girlfriend has died, and he must attend a hearing deciding the future of their son Max (Dakota Goyo). There, Max's aunt Debra (Hope Davis) and her wealthy husband Marvin (James Rebhorn) request full custody, which Charlie concedes for $100,000, half in advance, on the condition that Charlie retains Max for three months. Thereupon, Charlie and Max, and Bailey Tallet (Evangeline Lilly), the daughter of Charlie's boxing coach, acquire the once-famous robot "Noisy Boy" and arrange a fight, in which Noisy Boy is destroyed. Attempting to scavenge parts of a new robot, Max discovers "Atom", an obsolete but intact robot designed to withstand severe damage, and capable of mimicking its handler's motion.

At Max's behest, Charlie pits Atom against the robot "Metro", whom Atom overcomes. Max convinces Charlie to train Atom, resulting in a series of victories culminating upon national champion "Twin Cities". Elated by their successive victories, Max declares to challenge global champion "Zeus". Immediately, Ricky and two henchmen attack and rob Charlie, who thereupon returns Max to his aunt; but persuaded by Bailey, Charlie arranges the challenge offered by Max and convinces Debra to allow Max to witness the fight. Ricky bets $100,000 that Atom will not last the first round against Zeus, but loses his bet and is cornered by the fight's bookmakers. In the penultimate round, Atom's vocal controls are damaged, whereupon Charlie guides the robot through shadow mode to weaken and overwhelm Zeus; but is unable to win within allotted time. Zeus is declared the winner by number of blows inflicted; but the near-defeat leaves the Zeus team humiliated, and Atom is labelled the "People's Champion".

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Director Levy on set with Jackman in July 2010

Real Steel is directed by Shawn Levy and is based on Richard Matheson's 1956 short story "Steel."[4] The film was produced by DreamWorks Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, 21 Laps Entertainment, and Montford/Murphy Productions.[5] The original screenplay was written by Dan Gilroy and was purchased by DreamWorks for $850,000 in 2003 or 2005 (sources differ).[4][6] The project was one of 17 that DreamWorks took from Paramount Pictures when they split in 2008.[4] Director Peter Berg expressed interest in the project in mid-2009 but went no further.[6] Levy was attached to the project in September 2009,[7] and Jackman was cast in the starring role in November for a $9 million fee.[8] In the same month, Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider at DreamWorks greenlit the project.[4] Les Bohem and Jeremy Leven had worked on Gilroy's screenplay, but in 2009 John Gatins was working on a new draft.[6] When Levy joined the project, he worked with Gatins to revise the screenplay,[9] spending a total of six weeks fine-tuning the script. Advertising company FIVE33 did a two-hundred page "bible" about robot boxing. Levy said he was invited by Spielberg and Snider while finishing Date Night, and while the director initially considered Real Steel to have "a crazy premise," he accepted after reading the script and feeling it could be "a really humanistic sports drama."[10]

Real Steel had a production budget of $110 million.[2] Levy chose to set the film in state fairs and other "old-fashioned" Americana settings that would exude nostalgia and create a warm tone for the film's father-son story.[11] There was also an attempt for the scenery to blend in new and old technology.[10] Filming began in June 2010,[12] and ended by October 15, 2010.[13] Locations include areas around Detroit, Michigan, and across the state,[14] including at the Renaissance Center, the Cobo Arena, the Detroit Fire Department headquarters, the Russell Industrial Center, the Ingham County Courthouse in Mason, Michigan, the former Belle Isle Zoo, and the Highland Park Ford Plant.[15]

Jason Matthews of Legacy Effects, successor to Stan Winston Studios, was hired to turn production designer Tom Meyer's robot designs into practical animatronic props. He said, "We have 26-and-a-half total live-action robots that were made for this film. They all have hydraulic neck controls. Atom has RC [radio-controlled] hands as well."[16] According to Jackman, executive producer Spielberg "actually said to Shawn, 'You should really have real elements where you can.' ... Basically if they're not walking or fighting, that's a real robot."[17] Levy added that Spielberg gave the example of Jurassic Park, where Winston's animatronic dinosaurs "got a better performance from the actors, as they were seeing something real, and gave the visual effects team an idea of what it would look like." As Real Steel was not based on a toy, Meyer said that "there was no guideline" for the robots, and each was designed from scratch, with an attempt to put "different personality and aesthetics," according to Levy. In Atom's case, it tried to have a more humanizing design to be an "everyman" who could attract the audience's sympathy and serve as a proxy to the viewer, with a fencing mask that Meyer explained served to show "his identity was a bit hidden, so you have to work harder to get to see him."[18] Executive producer Robert Zemeckis added that the mask "became a screen so we can project what we want on Atom's face." Damage was added to the robots' decoration to show how they were machines worn out by intense battles.[10]

For scenes when computer-generated robots brawl, "simulcam" motion capture technology, developed for the film Avatar, was used. As Levy described the process, "[Y]ou're not only capturing the fighting of live human fighters, but you're able to take that and see it converted to [CGI] robots on a screen instantaneously. Simulcam puts the robots in the ring in real time, so you are operating your shots to the fight, whereas even three, four years ago, you used to operate to empty frames, just guessing at what stuff was going to look like."[19] Boxing hall-of-famer Sugar Ray Leonard was an adviser for these scenes[11] and gave Jackman boxing lessons so his moves would be more natural.[20]

Release[edit]

Real Steel had its world premiere on September 6, 2011, in Paris at the Le Grand Rex.[21] The film had its United States premiere on October 2, 2011, in Los Angeles at the Gibson Amphitheatre.[22] It was commercially released in Australia on October 6, 2011,[23] followed by the United States and Canada on October 7, 2011. For the U.S. release, it was originally scheduled for release on November 18, 2011,[12] but it was moved earlier to avoid competition with the first part of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.[24] The film was released in 3,440 theaters in the United States and Canada,[25] including 270 IMAX screenings. There will also be over 100 IMAX screenings in territories outside the United States and Canada, with 62 screening on October 7.[26]

Marketing[edit]

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures released the first trailer for Real Steel in December 2010. and was attached to Tron: Legacy[27] In May 2011, Disney released a second trailer. While the film features boxing robots, Levy said he wanted to show in the trailer "the father-son drama, the emotion Americana of it". He said, "We are very much the robo-boxing movie, but that's one piece of a broader spectrum."[28] In addition to marketing trailers and posters, Disney enlisted the British advertising company Five33 to build large physical displays representing the film as it had done for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.[29] The studio also collaborated with Virgin America to name one of their Airbus A320s after the film, and one of the film's robots is pictured on its fuselage.[30] On September 19, Jackman appeared on the weekly sports entertainment program WWE Raw to promote the film.[31] In addition to Jackman making an appearance on the show, WWE named Crystal Method's "Make Some Noise" from the film's soundtrack as the official theme song for their returning PPV, Vengeance.

Jakks Pacific released a toy line with action figures based on Atom, Zeus, Noisy Boy, Midas and Twin Cities.[citation needed] The company has also released a one-on-one, playset fighting game with robots in a ring.[32]

Jump Games released a fighting video game based on the film for Android and iOS devices,[33] and Yuke's has made a game for the PS3 and Xbox 360[34]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and both high-definition and standard-definition digital download on January 24, 2012, from Touchstone Home Entertainment. Additional material includes Disney Second Screen; deleted and extended scenes with introductions by director Levy; and a profile of film consultant Sugar Ray Leonard.[35][36]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Real Steel earned $85,468,508 in North America, and $213,800,000 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $299,268,508.[37] It had a worldwide opening of $49.4 million.[38] In North America, it topped the box office with $8.5 million on its opening day and $27.3 million in total on its opening weekend, claiming the number one spot, ahead of the other new nationwide release (The Ides of March) and all holdovers.[39] It managed first-place debuts in 11 countries including Hugh Jackman's native Australia ($4.2 million).[40]

Critical response[edit]

Real Steel received mixed to positive reviews from critics, with the aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes listing 60% of 210 critics giving a positive review, with a rating average of 5.9 out of 10. The website's consensus is, "Silly premise notwithstanding, this is a well-made Hollywood movie: Thrilling and exciting action with just enough characterization."[41] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a rating score of 56, based on 34 reviews.[42] CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was an A on an A plus to F scale.[43]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated the film three out of four stars, saying, "Real Steel is a real movie. It has characters, it matters who they are, it makes sense of its action, it has a compelling plot. Sometimes you go into a movie with low expectations and are pleasantly surprised."[44] Conversely, Claudia Puig of USA Today said that, "Though the premise of fighting robots does seem a plausible and intriguing extension of the contemporary WWE world, Real Steel is hampered by leaden, clichéd moments in which a stubborn boy teaches his childish father a valuable lesson."[45] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A-, saying director Levy "makes good use of his specialized skill in blending people and computer-made imaginary things into one lively, emotionally satisfying story".[46] James White of the UK magazine Empire gave the film 3 of 5 stars, saying, "Rocky with robots? It's not quite in Balboa's weight class, but Real Steel at least has some heft. There's barely a story beat among the beat-downs that you won't expect, and sometimes the saccharine gets in the way of the spectacle, but on the whole this is enjoyable family entertainment."[47]

Accolades[edit]

Award Nominee Category Result Ref.
People's Choice Awards Hugh Jackman Favorite Action Movie Star Won
Young Artist Award Dakota Goyo Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actor Won [48]
Saturn Award Best Performance by a Young Actor Nominated
Academy Awards Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Danny Gordon Taylor, and Swen Gillberg Best Visual Effects Nominated

Soundtrack[edit]

Real Steel soundtrack consists of 13 tracks featuring artists including Tom Morello, Eminem, Royce da 5'9" (Bad Meets Evil), Yelawolf, 50 Cent, Limp Bizkit and Foo Fighters. Levy, a fan of The Crystal Method, invited that duo to contribute to the soundtrack; they recorded two new songs for it after viewing a rough cut of the film.[10]

The score album of "Real Steel: Original Motion Picture Score" consists of 19 tracks composed by Danny Elfman; released November 1, 2011, in the US. Levy considered Elfman one of the few composers who could do a score similar to that of the Rocky franchise, alternating guitar-based ambient music and songs with a full orchestra.[10]

All music composed by Danny Elfman.

Sequel[edit]

In April 2011, DreamWorks announced it was developing a sequel, and that John Gatins, who wrote the screenplay for the first film, was hired to script the second.[51] Touchstone Pictures, which distributed the first, will co-produce and co-finance, with DreamWorks, and distribute the film. Director Shawn Levy said in September 2011 a sequel depended on the success of the first film and that he would also direct it. The key actors—Jackman, Lilly, and Goyo—would reprise their roles if the studio proceeded with a sequel, though the production schedule would need to match Jackman's crowded schedule.[52]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Real Steel". British Board of Film Classification. August 4, 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Kaufman, Amy (October 6, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Real Steel' to crush 'Ides of March'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 7, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Real Steel (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 16, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Siegel, Tatiana; Graser, Marc (November 23, 2009). "Hugh Jackman to star in 'Real Steel'". Variety. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  5. ^ McCarthy, Todd (September 28, 2011). "Real Steel: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  6. ^ a b c Fernandez, Jay A.; Kit, Borys (September 15, 2009). "Shawn Levy is new man of 'Steel'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  7. ^ Fleming, Michael (September 15, 2009). "Levy in for 'bots of 'Steel'". Variety. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Hollywood's Top 40". Vanity Fair. March 2011. Archived from the original on July 5, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  9. ^ Fleming, Michael (September 30, 2009). "Hugh Jackman boxed in for Levy". Variety. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Shawn Levy audio commentary, Real Steel Blu-Ray
  11. ^ a b Breznican, Anthony (June 15, 2010). "In Hugh Jackman's 'Real Steel,' the robot titans go pugilistic". USA Today. Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela (March 15, 2010). "Goyo added to Levy's 'Steel'". Variety. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  13. ^ Hinds, Julie (October 15, 2010). "Michigan movie clips". Detroit Free Press: C1. Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. . Abstract only: "Filming has concluded here on 'Real Steel,' 'Transformers 3,' 'Scream 4' and many other productions that made metro Detroit and nearby regions seem like Hollywood Midwest for the past few months".
  14. ^ "Hugh Jackman to Film Real Steel in Michigan". ComingSoon.net. January 22, 2010. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2011.  Cited to unavailable Detroit Free Press article, ""Hugh Jackman Coming to Michigan to Star in Big-Budget Sci-Fi Movie", January 22, 2010.
  15. ^ Hinds, Julie (October 1, 2011). "Michigan locations in 'Real Steel'". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on October 4, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  16. ^ Worley, Rob M. (September 13, 2011). "Bringing Real Steel’s Robots To Life". ComicBookResources.com. Retrieved September 28, 2011. 
  17. ^ Lovece, Frank (September 29, 2011). "'Real Steel': Rock 'em, sock 'em robots". Newsday. p. C8 of print edition. Retrieved October 4, 2011.  (Website requires subscription)
  18. ^ "Building The Bots", Real Steel Blu-Ray
  19. ^ Lovece, Frank (September 29, 2011). "Robots in the ring: Shawn Levy and Anthony Mackie bet on 'Real Steel'". Film Journal International. Archived from the original on October 4, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Sugar Ray Leonard: Cornerman’s Champ", Real Steel Blu-Ray
  21. ^ Staff (September 6, 2011). "'Real Steel' Paris Premiere At Le Grand Rex". Life. 
  22. ^ Ford, Rebecca (October 2, 2011). "Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly Attend 'Real Steel' Premiere". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 4, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  23. ^ Staff (September 21, 2011). "Jackman a big hit at wrestling show". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  24. ^ McClintock, Pamela (October 13, 2010). "DreamWorks' holiday 'War Horse'". Variety. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Release Schedule". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  26. ^ Vlessing, Etan (October 3, 2011). "Imax To Show 'Real Steel' on 270 Domestic Screens". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 4, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Film trailer: 'Real Steel' starring Hugh Jackman". The Independent. December 10, 2010. Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  28. ^ Breznican, Anthony (May 10, 2011). "'Real Steel' trailer: Hugh Jackman and director Shawn Levy discuss the human element in their robo-boxing movie". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  29. ^ Graser, Marc (May 26, 2011). "Pic promos get physical". Variety. Archived from the original on September 15, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  30. ^ Fernandez, Sofia M. (September 23, 2011). "Hugh Jackman Unveils 'Real Steel' Airplane". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  31. ^ Miller, Julie (September 20, 2011). "VIDEO: Hugh Jackman, WWE Stars Spend 6+ Uncomfortable Minutes in the Ring". Movieline. Retrieved September 27, 2011. 
  32. ^ "Real Steel Movie Playsets and Role Playing Games". PaperBlog.com. November 3, 2011. Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  33. ^ Staff (September 23, 2011). "Jump Games releases Real Steel fighting game for Android and iOS". ThinkDigit.com (Nine Dot Nine Mediaworx Pvt. Ltd). Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Real Steel Video Game official website". Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Real Steel Blu-ray Release Date, Details and Cover Art". The HD Room. December 2, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  36. ^ "Real Steel Hitting DVD and Blu-ray in January". Filmonic. December 2, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  37. ^ "Real Steel". Retrieved November 11, 2011. 
  38. ^ McClintock, Pamela (October 9, 2011). "Box Office Report: Hugh Jackman Starrer 'Real Steel' Wins Weekend with $27.3 Mil". Retrieved October 11, 2011. 
  39. ^ "October 7–9, 2011 Weekend". Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  40. ^ "Real Steel". Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
  41. ^ "Real Steel (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  42. ^ "Real Steel: Reviews (2011)". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  43. ^ Kaufman, Amy (October 9, 2011). "Box Office: 'Real Steel' KOs competition, including George Clooney". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  44. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 5, 2011). "Real Steel Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  45. ^ Puig, Claudia (October 7, 2011). "'Real Steel' robots do battle with movie cliches". USA Today. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  46. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (October 13, 2011). "Real Steel (2011)". Entertainment Weekly. 
  47. ^ White, James (undated). "Real Steel". Empire. 
  48. ^ "33rd Annual Young Artist Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  49. ^ "Real Steel - Music From The Motion Picture". Amazon.com. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  50. ^ "Real Steel". Amazon.com. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  51. ^ Fleming, Mike (April 14, 2011). "DreamWorks Revs Up 'Real Steel' Sequel". Deadline.com. Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  52. ^ Otto, Jeff (September 25, 2011). "Shawn Levy Confirms He'll Direct 'Real Steel 2,' But Will Have To Wait For Busy Hugh Jackman". indieWire. Retrieved September 27, 2011. 

External links[edit]