Box Office: Gravity & Captain Phillips Top The Weekend, Carrie Opens #3


George Clooney: From Up in the Air to Up in Space

During the summer it’s nearly impossible to have a film repeat in the top spot more than a couple of times. But fall is a different season, obviously, and with a change in season comes a change in strategy when it comes to release patterns. Now we get more adult-oriented fare. Not strictly highbrow stuff, but stuff with matinee idols that’s looking to do more than be major blockbusters. Sometimes they want the platitudes of critical acclaim and awards consideration. Though, the film Gravity is a common ground: It’s a film that is a blockbuster but looks to be that technical marvel that critics want to call a “game changer” or the “best 3D” as juicy descriptors when it comes to print and television ads.

While we are less than two weeks away from Halloween, it was Gravity that took the number one spot again for the third consecutive week. Captain Phillips followed suit repeating in second place. Both films easily beat out a three-tier assault of newcomers: the Carrie remake, the Schwarzenegger-Stallone team-up Escape Plan and the story of WikiLeaks (The Fifth Estate) with a white-haired Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange.

Strong word of mouth and critical praise has been Gravity‘s bread and butter in being the talk of Hollywood. It took in another $31 million for the weekend to bring its domestic total to $170.6 million. Most films would kill to have a $30+ million figure in its first weekend let alone third. The only other film to have a better domestic gross in its third week this year is Iron Man 3. In its three weeks approximately $38 million (22% overall) was from over 300 IMAX screens. And for those that enjoy disaster films, it is now the tenth highest-grossing “disaster” movie of all time passing Roland Emmerich’s 2012. Though, I wonder where Gravity ranks when it comes to survivalist tales.

Holding on to second place was Captain Phillips ($17.3 million), bringing its two-week total to $53.3 million. Crewmembers of the Alabama ship that was besieged by Somali pirates have a dissenting view of the film’s “authenticity” it doesn’t look like it has stopped ticket sales. Paul Greengrass’s film did just enough business to beat out the big Halloween horror-timed release of Carrie ($17 million). Even with an impressive viral clip on YouTube, the $30 million film couldn’t outmatch the likes of summer hits The Conjuring, The Purge and most recently Insidious: Chapter 2 when it comes to super openings. This updated remake of Brian De Palma’s 1976 classic based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel had a strong pairing of Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore as fictional daughter and mother, but Sissy Spacek’s performance in the titular role was seen as a revelation and netted the actress her first Oscar nomination.

As the prime family friendly film of the moment, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 had another double-digit finish with $10.1 million. In what would have been cool 25 years ago but now seems sad and depressing, Escape Plan opened with $9.8 million. The prison thriller with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger is a pretty low point for both of their careers. Showing a little bit of life in its fifth week of release is the crime drama Prisoners with approximately $2.1 million. Fox Searchlight’s Enough Said saw some expansion and was able to regain position in the top 10 as it leaped from 11th to 7th place with $1.8 million.

If you want to talk poor box office performance, well look no further than The Fifth Estate. Opening in 1,769 theaters, the film had a per-theater average of $969 per theater to finish with $1.7 million overall. Not even Benedict Cumberbatch could entice viewers to see a docudrama about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Getting winded in ninth place was Runner Runner with $1.6 million. And still hanging on in the top ten was Insidious: Chapter 2 with $1.5 million.

Opening in limited release we had a few dramas that may pick up some Oscar nominations in the coming months. Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave opened strongly in 19 theaters with $960,000 (PTA of $50,525). With rave reviews coming out of festivals at Telluride, Toronto and NYFF (not to mention my own forthcoming review), expect this one to garner more than a few Academy Award nominations with star Chiwetal Ejifor leading the way. The Robert Redford starrer All is Lost opened in six theaters with $97,000 (PTA $16,225).

Upcoming we have Ridley Scott’s The Counselor with Cormac McCarthy (author of No Country for Old Men) tacking a crack at writing his first screenplay. That film will have to contend with Johnny Knoxville’s Jackass presents: Bad Grandpa, expansions of the limited releases above and Gravity‘s continued success. Who do you have finishing where in this weekend box office?

Weekend Box Office Top Ten for October 18 – October 20, 2013

1. Gravity (Warner Bros.) – $31,030,000 ($170,566,000)

2. Captain Phillips (Sony) – $17,300,000 ($53,300,000)

3. Carrie (Screen Gems) – $17,000,000

4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony) – $10,100,000 ($93,137,000)

5. Escape Plan (Lionsgate/Summit) – $9,800,000

6. Prisoners (Warner Bros.) – $2,065,000 ($57,259,000)

7. Enough Said (Fox Searchlight) – $1,800,000 ($10,787,000)

8. The Fifth Estate (Touchstone Pictures/DreamWorks) – $1,714,000

9. Runner Runner (Fox) – $1,625,000 ($17,536,000)

10. Insidious: Chapter 2 (FilmDistrict) – $1,533,000 ($80,923,000)

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