Weekend Box Office: GRAVITY Hits New October Opening Record with $55.5 Million

     October 6, 2013

gravity-george-clooney-sliceSci-fi has been redeemed this morning. In a year that produced genre disappointments like After Earth and Oblivion, original sci-fi has its first unqualified hit of 2013 with Gravity. The thriller soared to $55.5 million on its first weekend, or about $15 million more than even its most optimistic boosters put the film one week ago. More importantly, Gravity set a new record for October by topping Paranormal Activity 3’s $52.5 million debut.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Gravity $55,550,000 $55.5
2.  Cloudy with a Chance 2 $21,500,000 $61.5
3.  Runner Runner $7,600,000 $7.6
4.  Prisoners $5,700,000 $47.8
5.  Rush $4,408,000 $18
6.  Don Jon $4,160,000 $16
7.  Baggage Claim $4,125,000 $15.1
8.  Insidious Chapter 2 $3,876,000 $74.7
9.  Pulling Strings $2,500,000 $2.5
10.  Enough Said $2,150,000 $5.13

gravity-posterAfter getting excited over new September records for Insidious Chapter 2 and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 that never materialized, this morning’s Gravity win is especially sweet. The Warner Bros. feature was originally expected to come in between $35 and $40 million – or about on par with last summer’s Pacific Rim. Instead, Gravity soared past all of its 2013 sci-fi compatriots with over $55 million.

Because 2013 has proved such a disappointment for original sci-fi, the facts that augured in favor of today’s big Gravity launch were originally overlooked. The film has scored some of the best reviews of the year for a wide release with 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. But if audiences always applied Cinemath logic, Ron Howard’s Rush (88%) would have broken out bigger last weekend. The reviews certainly helped, but what really turned the tide for Gravity was its 3D effects.

While 3D is certainly still an important part of the film industry, the format is a bit past its prime. That last weekend’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 came in lower than expected is just one example of the diminishing power of 3D effects to significantly shape box office results. In fact, many studios have stopped emphasizing 3D theatre counts. Three years ago, studios routinely included the percentage of 3D screens for any given release in their weekly reports. Today, that’s much more unusual. Except for Gravity.

Warner Bros. promoted Gravity as a visual event – the kind of film best appreciated in 3D or IMAX 3D. Audiences clearly got the message. 3D screens accounted for over 85% of Gravity’s 3,575 locations and brought in an impressive 80% of the film’s overall estimate. 343 IMAX 3D dates accounted for another 20% of the film’s opening, which means that a big majority of audiences paid a higher price for their Gravity tickets this weekend. That’s how records get broken.

Big as it is, Gravity is not the biggest launch of Alfonso Cuaron’s career. The director’s time at the helm of the Harry Potter series saw Prisoner of Azkaban open to over $93 million back in 2004. Cuaron’s latest release has, however, supplied new career highs for its stars. George Clooney’s previous best was the $42.8 million opening of Batman and Robin back in 1997. Adjusted for inflation, B & R still wins with over $60 million, but I doubt Clooney will argue that particular case. Sandra Bullock’s all-time best debut of $39.1 million came earlier this year with The Heat, so no adjustments are needed.

runner runner posterWould that I could end this box office report on a high note but, alas, the fate of Runner Runner must be mentioned. If Gravity rates as one of the year’s best-reviewed films, Runner Runner is clearly one of its worst at just 8% on RT. For leading man Ben Affleck, that’s just two points higher than Gigli. Despite its wide release, Runner Runner was not expected to be a major player – $13 million was the highest projection I saw for this weekend’s opening. Instead, the R-rated drama took in just $7.6 million from its 3,026 locations. Luckily, Runner Runner didn’t cost much at $30 million so, with decent international and secondary-market sales, Fox could still spin this into a positive… one day.

Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said expanded to 437 locations on Friday. On most other weeks, an estimate of $2.1 million would not be good enough to earn the comedy a spot in the top ten but, thanks to the disproportionate success of Gravity, smaller films had a bigger window into this weekend’s chart. The same was true for today’s number nine film: Pulling Strings. Following August’s break-out hit Instructions Not Included, distributor Lionsgate followed with another Spanish-language comedy this week. Pulling Strings did not prove as potent as its predecessor; though the film’s $2.5 million from 347 locations would qualify as impressive had Instructions not tripled that number just a few weeks back.

Despite the best efforts of Gravity, the overall box office for this first frame of October was down by approximately 13% from 2012.  With Captain Phillips expected to open in the $20 million range next weekend, it looks like Gravity may be able to claim a second week on top. It is also likely that Machete Kills will be next week’s Runner Runner… just with better reviews.


  • hockablah

    just because it’s space-based, i wouldn’t call “Gravity” sci-fi. more “sci-drama” with a touch of “worst case scenario” than anything else. but it’s all relative. either way, kudos to “Gravity” and all involved in the filming. best movie of the year. bar none.

    • Nicole

      The genre IS really hard to pin down with GRAVITY. Box Office Mojo has it under the “Disaster” genre, so it is up there with THIS IS THE END, TITANIC and WORLD WAR Z. I went with sci-fi because it was in space, but I can’t argue with you – it hits multiple categories. That what makes it kind of great.

      • Guest

        While most movies set in space are undoubtedly sci-fi, GRAVITY is not. The science fiction genre is defined by the inclusion of speculative science.

        Specifically, a science fiction story always involves an aspect of science or technology that does not currently exist (but may exist in the future) and then the story examines/speculates about the effects of this imaginary science or technology — what would the existence of this science or technology mean for mankind, and how would it impact society, or the way we live?

        For example, most science fiction set in space deals with the existence of light speed travel or other means of interstellar or intergalactic travel. For INCEPTION, the science/technology is the dream-entering apparatus, which while not fully explained, drives the narrative. For ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, the science/technology is the process that allows the targeted erasure of memories. I haven’t seen OBLIVION, ELYSIUM, or AFTER EARTH, but the fact that they each take place in the future indicates that they probably include advances in science and technology.

        Given this basic definition, GRAVITY is not science fiction. I would call it thriller, disaster, or maybe even horror. Although people can (and will) debate the plausibility and realism of some of the minute details of the physics and science on display, the basic premise–astronauts struggling to survive unexpected satellite destruction within Earth’s orbit–is not speculative science. Although Dr. Ryan Stone is initially installing some unknown technology into the Hubble Space Telescope, this technology is never further examined (depending on what it is, it could easily exist in today’s world), and more importantly, this technology has no further bearing on the plot.

      • Lance

        I don’t think I can agree with you.

        Let’s say a movie came out that involved the first colony on Mars. All the technology showed in the movie could be technology that already exists — there are serious people who’re planning such a thing right now — and yet I think most people would still call the movie science fiction.

        Also, when the speculative elements in science fiction become science fact, does that mean the story is no longer science fiction? Is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea no longer Sci-Fi because people invented working submarines? Will 2001 no longer be science fiction when someone creates a real Artificial Intelligence computer?

    • pinkincide

      People need to stop this “Gravity isn’t’ Science Fiction” crap. Not only is it science fiction, it’s HARD science fiction–the same rare stuff I’m constantly seeking out in book form. We finally get some good SF going and everyone wants to ban it from the category.

  • axalon

    Well deserved!

  • http://mattedscreen.blogspot.com/ TheMattedScreen

    I don’t think I’ve had to do as much convincing to get people to GO SEE a movie as I have with Gravity – every time someone said. “oh, I’ll see it when it comes to DVD” I wanted to slap them as hard I could – this is a THEATER movie not your tiny 40inch screen

    • Lovecraftlives

      Yes, most people seem to have no problem in watching crap like Transformers or the next Grown Ups. One can hope that this film can get people into seeing better quality films, but I don’t know.

    • junierizzle

      While I agree that it looks awesome on a big screen, if a movie is good than it should be good on a Big screen and a tiny 40 inch TV.

      • http://mattedscreen.blogspot.com/ TheMattedScreen

        I don’t think I agree with that entirely, sure there are movies that work on a smaller screen, Star Wars, Jaws, Jurassic Park, 2001, or Titanic for instance, but they LOOSE so much when compared to seeing them on a big screen. That first viewing shapes a lot of the impact of the story. In the case of Gravity you’ll loose the feeling of massive empty space. If anything this is a movie that deserves a gigantic screen for each viewing – IMO

      • Sten

        That’s exactly the reason I never bought an Avatar Blu-ray. It was a cinema only experience. Same with Gravity, I guess.
        Damn, one more of that quality and I have to buy a 3D TV set…

      • http://mattedscreen.blogspot.com/ TheMattedScreen

        I have a 3D set, it’s worth it for movies like this one – even some of the conversions like Avengers or Jurassic Park 3D, and the Pixar releases get good use out of my set.

      • Sten

        Let’s see what Santa Claus brings this Christmas… ;)

      • http://mattedscreen.blogspot.com/ TheMattedScreen

        …that fat bastard is still in the rears to me for a NES, Genesis, AND a puppy – I hope he gets your list because I’m starting to doubt he’s real.

      • Sten

        You must have been a naughty kid that year(s)…

      • junierizzle

        Well, maybe they lose something because once you take away the big screen one realizes It’s not that good. If one just wants to leave it as a theatre experience than that’s another story. I never saw Jurassic Park on a big screen and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. The movie is just good.

  • Liam Haber

    While you could easily be right, I honestly see a bigger opening for Captain Phillips than just $20 million. It is Pg-13, like Gravity, but it attracts a much different audience.
    Gravity, an amazing movie in its own right, (and one that I bought IMAX3D tickets a week in advance for) had it own impressive box office fodder: the breathtaking and spectacular visuals, a story that hadn’t been heard before, the reputation of Bullock, Clooney and Cuaron, and the reviews. This means that older people will want to see it for the stars they love, it has a slight spanish audience, and above all it had people who wanted to see a quality movie, the first since the summer.
    But there is one audience group Gravity didn’t have an intrinsic lock on- younger people. I am a teenager, and although I watch more (and better) movies than most of my peers, I do know that there are many people my age looking forward to Captain Phillips, and not nearly as many were looking forward to Gravity.
    Looking at it from my age and why we’d want to see it, there are a number of big factors. The Bourne movies are good action movies, darker than, say, Mission: Impossible, and are appropriate for teens. Captain Phillips, like Bourne before it, has a genre that doesn’t produce many good movies but absorbs teenagers- the Action-Thriller. Finally, there is another fact that has gotten other recent movies a large sum of teenaged audiences- the time period. I am 16, and I remember this event with the Somalian pirates very well. The same situation can be said for another movie popular among teenagers from last year, Zero Dark Thirty. Add all of that to the drawing power of Hanks, and you have a decent movie there.
    I anticipate a bigger box office for Captain Phillips, about $30 million, although I am no box office expert. It probably won’t beat Gravity, but it am going to give it some credit. Mostly because I want to see it and how it is good.

  • bombinUSA

    was apollo 13 sci fi? no. so neither is gravity. everything that happens in gravity is probable.

  • HeSaidSheSaidReviewSite

    Gravity has been hyped up to ridiculous levels. This movie is filled with one ridiculous miracle scenario right after another. It’s told through the eyes of someone with 6 months training and she’s the sole survivor? Please. This movie is all look and no substance.

    • Lovecraftlives

      Please shut up! This film is the best thing to come to us in the last ten years. A wonderful film that keeps on giving and giving.

      • junierizzle

        I agree with this dude. Yes, this film is all look. They can say it’s about this and that but this movie was made specifically to accomplish things on a technical level. Why is it the best thing to come around in the last ten years? Just because of the visuals? Because the story is pretty bare.

      • Oolie zool

        what you call bare, I call lean. If it weren’t “bare”, as you put it, you’d probably call it bloated. It’s a no win scenario with some of you people.

      • junierizzle

        Bare, lean whatever. The story is Astronauts get thrown adrift into space and they have to survive. Why is it so amazing? Just because it looks cool?

      • Emile

        It doesn’t just “looks” cool. It “feels” cool, and scary… and terrorizing (at least for me and good portion of the audience I was watching the film with). If the movie was just “looks”, I don’t think it would get such a general approval from AND the critics, AND the moviegoers, AND the average joe guy. It wouldn’t get the mass attention it got.

        The fact is that the movie inspires something inside most of us, a fear that is so intense that it makes us wonder at how big the sky really is. When I watched Gravity, I felt crushed under the pressure of all that void, I know my friend did too. We talked about it for the whole ride back. I, they, felt fear, real fear and tension, real tension. Not the one you get for a classic pop-corn flick or bad horror movie. Real. You get it? This is what Gravity delivers, true awe. If you didn’t feel this, then you’re just one of the unlucky.

        Sure the story was pretty straightforward. But that’s not relevant, it wasn’t meant to be complex. It was meant to make us hold our breath for one and a half hour.

        Its a great experience, one of the greatest I ever lived in a theater. All these people around me felt the same fear I did. We were all there together. Usually we can reassure ourselves with a smile, an eye contact, a thought: “heh, just a movie”. Not this time… Because you see, space is real, and scary. Inexplicably scary, but also beautiful. And that’s what the movie captures. The essence of space, of being so much and yet just a handful of dust.

      • junierizzle

        Well I’m happy for you if that was your experience. I have been moved like that before by other movies but not Gravity unfortunately. Like I said in another post I did like the movie, I just wasn’t blown away by it like you and others were.

      • mbmarquis69

        Actually what makes it amazing for me is that it’s filmed by a director who does some pretty spectacular things involving fluid camera movements, uncut sequences, and playing on the audience’s anxiety by building and releasing tension. Sure, I guess that falls into the category of “looks cool.”

        But then there is the story, which affects different people in different ways. I was profoundly moved by it. I brought much of my own baggage into this film, and therefore was touched by the metaphors and the underlying themes.

        Your results may vary.

      • Sten

        It was so bare, it achieved raving reviews all the way…
        Avatar was bare, too. So was Avengers. And Titanic. People need simple stories, if they are told right! I don’t care for a intellectual misfire with lots of plottwists and such if it is done wrong. See Alien for a bare story done rightfully. Or the Terminator. And now Gravity. Go see it.

      • junierizzle

        I wouldn’t exactly call those films bare. And all the reviews kind of prove my point. Everyone is raving about the visual achievements and then they say the story is actually the weakest part. There is nothing wrong with a simple story which Gravity is. I have seen it and I thought it was fine. I don’t get all the raves. The visuals are great but come on, there are about two or three cool shots and the rest is Bullock floating around, we’ve seen floating around in space a million times before. I’ve never seen a movie proclaimed best of the year/decade based purely on visuals. I still think Neo dodging bullets is far more impressive.

        All I am saying is that it’s pretty good not great and certainly not the best movie of the year.

      • Sten

        I’m okay with that. But if you recall Neo, what about the sequels? The effect got shitty then, didn’t it? It’s all about execution. The Wachowskis blew it big time. I still love the first one though.

      • junierizzle

        I’ll agree with that.

      • HeSaidSheSaidRevieSite

        The best thing to come out in the last ten years? A film that keeps on giving and giving? Thank you for proving my point.

    • junierizzle

      Finally, I found someone that feels like I do. Yes, this film is all look. They can say it’s about this and that but this movie was made specifically to accomplish things on a technical level.

      • HeSaidSheSaidReviewSite

        I saw someone on IMDB describe it was Sandra Bullock going “Ahhh aaahh” for an hour and a half and I had to laugh at that comment. I couldn’t disagree with it. Great looking movie and there were a few parts that moved me the way they were supposed to, but aside from that, I wasn’t feeling it. The drama felt hammy and the story just felt over-the-top. A rookie astronaut the lone survivor after that many disasters? Please.

  • Lovecraftlives

    Hey! I liked Oblivion. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but it was way better than that shit After Earth!

  • Hari

    The movie had a budget of a $100M+ and two huge a-list stars. This isn’t that great of an opening, Maybe not a flop, but its more meh than some huge hit IMO.

    • Jason Richards

      I don’t see your point. This is a scifi movie opening up in the fall and it made 55 million dollars. It’s a Huge hit.

      • Hari

        You’d expect something a bit more for having Clooney AND Bullock and a Sci-Fi action premise and a 3D and IMAX boost. This is pretty much just okay.

      • mbmarquis69

        Actually the opening is pretty remarkable, and the industry is buzzing about it, so if suits in Hollywood are pleased, I’ll take their excitement as an indication of a good opening over someone posting a comment online.

        Whether this movie has great word of mouth, remains to be seen.

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  • EmmaHill0

    so amazing…how can you earn so much only in 1 hour? b­ℴ­w­6­.­c­o­m­

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