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Flop Level Midnight: What Passes the Flop Threshold?

The Projector

Turns out, our Predictor column conflicts too much with that Box Office Knockout thing, so we're gonna change it up this week. We don't mind, though, because: a) we were pretty bad at predicting the order anyway; and b) we were already looking to change the format of these box office posts, regardless. (We still felt like we should mention it.) Everybody does rankings! Let's do something different. Think different, as the late Bill Gates used to always say, back when he invented Netscape.

Thus: We're gonna take a look at each of the new wide releases each week and mark what number domestic gross they need to hit to avoid the dreaded "flop" moniker. No one wants to be known as a flop. They only use the word "flop" in the context of entertainment, so let's just own the word already. Remember: Much of this is contingent on a film's budget: The rule of thumb is that 40 percent of a movie's domestic gross comes its opening weekend, so, depending on the cost, there could be a lot of ground to make up, quick. High stakes! This week's contestants are "Real Steel" and "The Ides Of March." Let's do it.

"Real Steel." (The Projector Grade: C+.) They're going after the family market, which is a smart business move, even if it's a little discouraging for those of us who don't want cute kids to distract us from just watching robots beat the crap out of each other for two hours. (Note: This is inaccurate. Robots do not poo and therefore have no crap to be beaten out of them.) If they've successfully sold this as a kid's film -- and we're not entirely convinced they have -- they could be looking at $25 million or more. But if everyone is confused by the cute kid and the robot doing the robot, it could turn the wrong way. Let's put the threshold at: $18 million.

"The Ides of March." (The Projector Grade: B-.) It's only playing on 2,220 screens, which is its own limitation right there. The ads make it look more caustic and intelligent than it is, but it's still Clooney, even if the poster only has half his face. The real problem, though: It's depressing enough to watch politics in the real world. This has hardly mobilized any sort of audience. This could end up doing worse than anyone suspects, and it could be the third straight disappointment in the summer/fall of Gosling. Let's just hope it makes it above $10 million.