Where did the young audience go? That is the compelling -- and scary -- question for studios as another October weekend falls flat, even with strong turnout from the older demographic. The top ten came in at only $94 million, down from $112 last year, as kids failed to turn out for Sony's disappointing "Carrie" reboot and grownup fare failed to pick up the slack.
"Gravity" continues its extremely impressive performance, with another under 30% falloff, and "Captain Phillips" followed behind, also showing strength with a 33% fall from its solid first week. But other than the animated hit "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" (along with Sony's "Phillips" and "Carrie"), everything else fizzled, with two other new films, "Escape Plan" and "The Fifth Estate," not even scoring with adults.
November looks to have three potential blockbusters with strong youth appeal -- "Ender's Game," "Thor 2" and most of all "Catching Fire." But at this point nothing seems certain, with signs that one big segment of the movie going public has found other ways to entertain themselves.
Among new limited releases, Fox Searchlight's "12 Years a Slave" soared with a just under $1 million take in only 19 theaters. More on this and other specialized grosses in Arthouse Audit shortly.
1. Gravity (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #1
$31,030,000 (-28%) in 3,820 theaters (+160); PSA (per screen average): $8,123; Cumulative: $170,566,000
Overachieving for the third weekend in a row, "Gravity " is the first 2013 film to hit #1 for three weeks in a row and the first to do so in October since 2004 ("Shark Tales"). After only three weekends, "Gravity" now has the highest unadjusted gross of any October release (2-D "Meet the Parents" in 2000 reached $166 million, which would be around $250 million today).
This is only the third non-summer or Thanksgiving/Christmas period film ever to top $30 million for a third weekend ("Passion of the Christ," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Hunger Games" were the previous; only "Alice" had 3-D surcharges) and the first between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. It only lags behind "Iron Man 3"'s third weekend by $5 million, and way ahead of "Man of Steel," which had fallen to $20.5 million by this point.
What comes next: "Gravity" dominates the country's IMAX screens for only one more week -- "Ender's Game" lays claim on November 1 (IMAX grosses made up a staggering 30% of this weekend's total). But one way or another (3-D will continue indefinitely) this will be around for many weeks to come, with a fourth #1 ranking quite possible.
2. Captain Phillips (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #2
$17,300,000 (-33%) in theaters (no change); PSA: $5,728; Cumulative: $53,300,000
A solid hold for this Paul Greengrass/Tom Hanks Somali pirate story that is grabbing strong adult audience response. With an above-average performance for a second week (those aimed at younger audiences fall at a faster pace), "Captain Phillips" takes second place due to "Carrie"'s weakness. This bodes well for the film's further life in theaters (it will easily pass $100 million) and enhances its awards cred down the line. With a thrifty budget of $55 million and international grosses likely to be even better, this is a badly needed hit for Sony, which took a creative risk with this film (as well as selecting the relatively early October release date).