Grossing more than all the new releases combined, the space smash Gravity led the North American box office with ease for the third straight time collecting an estimated $31M. The Warner Bros. blockbuster displayed tremendous legs once again by slipping only 28% allowing the 17-day cume to soar to an eye-popping $170.6M. Only one 2013 film has grossed more in its third weekend – the year’s top hit Iron Man 3 which did $35.8M. And The Butler was the only other film this year to spend three weeks at number one with its third frame winning only thanks to a holiday.
Gravity is tapping into repeat business and is broadening its audience as newcomers are finding the Sandra Bullock-George Clooney disaster pic through stellar word-of-mouth. A final trajectory towards the $250-275M range seems likely for the domestic market which would be third best for the year. These are summer-like grosses in the fall. An incredible $38M has come from the 318 IMAX screens representing 22% of the total and that amount could climb up to about $60M which is more than what most new films opening this month will make from all screens.
Bullock has now become the first star of 2013 to anchor two different hits grossing over $150M domestic each. Her summer action-comedy The Heat has grossed $159.3M to date and also had a leggy run thanks to high customer satisfaction. The Oscar-winning actress has now led four hits past the $150M mark over the last four years and is arguably the most bankable star in Hollywood today, male or female.
Overseas, Gravity was tops again pulling in $33.5M from 51 markets pushing the international total to $114.2M and the worldwide tally to $284.8M. Korea and Mexico scored solid openings this weekend with $7.1M and $5.7M, respectively, while Russia leads overall with $17.3M after its third weekend. Some huge markets are still to come such as France, the U.K., China and Japan so surpassing $500M next month will not be a problem for the Alfonso Cuaron-directed thriller.
Tom Hanks enjoyed a solid hold for his hostage thriller Captain Phillips which followed its strong opening with a 33% decline to an estimated $17.3M for an impressive ten-day tally of $53.3M. The sophomore weekend gross was even bigger than the first weekend debuts of all of the actor’s live-action films from this decade – Larry Crowne ($13.1M), Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close ($10M), and Cloud Atlas ($9.6M). Sony is on track to surpass the $100M mark with Phillips which is especially remarkable given the competition for adults from Gravity. Hanks and Bullock have banked substantial likability points over their careers and are now cashing them in with well-made films about Americans in peril.
The horror flick Carrie opened in third place with an estimated $17M from 3,157 theaters for a lukewarm $5,385 average. Sony’s remake of the high school fright tale was aimed at today’s generation of teens and young adults and opened at the low end of expectations. Given that it was the only horror title for the Halloween month of October, the performance was a bit underwhelming. The production cost was reportedly near the $30M mark.
Studio research from Sony showed predictable results – 54% of the crowd was female and 56% was under 25. Reviews were mixed, but not bad enough to scare away the target audience of young adults. And the B- CinemaScore grade is respectable for this genre. Positioned in part as a supernatural thriller, the poster featuring star Chloe Grace Moretz’s blood-soaked head may have been a turn-off for many young women who prefer spooks over gore.
Getting to within striking distance of the century club, the toon sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 followed with an estimated $10.1M sliding by only 27%. Sony has banked $93.1M to date and after four weekends the 3D food pic is running only 3% behind the pace of its 2009 predecessor.
Former box office kings Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up for the new prison action thriller Escape Plan but pulled in a soft amount of business with an estimated $9.8M opening weekend. Averaging a mild $3,399 from 2,883 locations, the R-rated pic played to older men. Studio research showed that males made up 55% (surprisingly low for this type of testosterone flick) and 61% over 30. Reviews were not too great but audiences were fairly pleased as Escape earned a B+ CinemaScore grade. The actors fared worse early this year with solo projects as Stallone’s Bullet to the Head bowed to $4.5M while Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand debuted to $6.3M. International and ancillary markets should deliver better results for this type of product.
The kidnapping thriller Prisoners dropped 43% to an estimated $2.1M this weekend and Warner Bros. has taken in a solid $57.3M so far. Adding 151 theaters, Fox Searchlight’s indie comedy hit Enough Said jumped back into the top ten with a remarkable hold easing a scant 6% to an estimated $1.8M. Cume is now $10.8M from 757 theaters.
Audiences showed no interest in paying to see the new WikiLeaks movie The Fifth Estate. The Disney release opened poorly to an estimated $1.7M from 1,769 locations for a miserable $969 average. Rarely do wide openers fail to crack an average of $1,000 per location and this R-rated drama about Julian Assange and his web site for whistleblowers had no subject matter that could draw in moviegoers. Bad reviews hurt and the cast lacked any stars that could pull in business, although lead Benedict Cumberbatch did win praise for his performance. Competition for sophisticated adult audiences crushed it too. Openings in Spain and the U.K. have also been weak. Estate won the high-profile opening night slot of last month’s Toronto International Film Festival, but attracted negative buzz once more critics and industry people saw the film.
The Justin Timberlake-Ben Affleck online gambling thriller Runner Runner fell 57% to ninth place with an estimated $1.6M giving Fox only $17.5M to date. Rounding out the top ten was this year’s second biggest horror hit Insidious Chapter 2 with an estimated $1.5M, off 44%, for a $80.9M total.
Leveraging sensational reviews and loads of Oscar talk, the acclaimed period drama 12 Years A Slave debuted to fantastic results in limited release with an estimated $960,000 from only 19 theaters in six markets for a promising $50,526 average. Directed by Steve McQueen (Shame), the R-rated film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodard and Fifth Estate’s Cumberbatch.
Fox Searchlight will take Slave into more than 100 sites next weekend opening in additional markets hoping for a prolonged fall run that can reach a broad spectrum of audiences thanks to reviews and buzz. The film is currently seen as one of the front-runners to win the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor, although it is still incredibly early in the awards race. Academy voting runs from February 14 to 25 with the ceremony on March 2.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $94M which was down 19% from last year when Paranormal Activity 4 debuted at number one with $29M; and down 11% from 2011 when Paranormal Activity 3 opened in the top spot with $52.6M. This is the first October in ten years without a Paranormal or Saw installment.