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'Gravity' Dominates Weekend Box Office with Big Saturday Jump

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood October 6, 2013 at 2:49PM

3-D space epic "Gravity" delivered a bigger-than-expected $55.5 million at an otherwise dismal weekend box office. Only one other film grossed more than $8 million, holdover "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" ($21.5 million). After the recent ballyhoo over AMC's "Breaking Bad" finale, "Gravity" reminds that the public will respond to unanimous praise for a ground-breaking cinematic event.
'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs'
'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs'

2. Cloudy With a Chances of Meatballs 2 (Sony) Week 2 - Last weekend #1

$21,500,000 (-37%) in 4,001 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $5,374; Cumulative: $60,557,000

A solid #2 this weekend, with a standard better than average hold for an animated film, this continues as the sole family film in the market, undoubtedly giving it a boost. Also helping were sneaks of "Captain Phillips," which played at 800 of these theaters last night, adding to evening business as its ticket sales were included the total (the Tom Hanks-starring film opens next Friday, with these screenings meant to bolster awareness and interest).

"Cloudy 2" opened bigger than the first go-round, but even with the sneaks, dropped more -- the 2009 initial film grossed $25 million and dropped 17%. Sony's "Hotel Transylvania" last year fell 36% last year and grossed $27 million its second weekend.

What comes next: Fortunately for Sony the field remains clear for the next few weeks without much kids' competition.

3. Runner Runner (20th Century-Fox) NEW - Cinemascore: C; Criticwire: C; Metacritic: 37

$7,600,000 in 3,026 theaters; PSA: $2,512; Cumulative: $7,600,000

The other new wide release this week is a flop. This Justin Timberlake-Ben Affleck gambling caper film, cowritten by "Ocean 13"'s scripters, failed to make a dent and shows how fickle audiences are about new releases. Produced for about $30 million by Fox partner New Regency ("Bride Wars," "Broken City") and directed by Brad Furman ("The Lincoln Lawyer") this barely moved the needle despite a big campaign and a 3,000-wide theater break. Already open in much of the world, the foreign take ($23.5 million) also does not help the cause.

What comes next: Likely has one more week before it runs out of steam.

4. Prisoners (Warner Bros.) Week 3 - Last weekend #3

$5,700,000 (-48%) in 3,236 theaters (-54); PSA: $; Cumulative: $47,880,000

Denis Villeneuve's well-received kidnap drama took another nearly 50% drop this weekend. It seems to be suffering from a lack of playability, as Warners' own "Gravity" may have hurt it, along with just OK word of mouth. 

What comes next: International, which is opening slowly, will determine whether this turns out to be a success.

5. Rush (Universal) Week 3 - Last weekend #3

$4,400,000 (-56%) in 2,308 theaters (+11); PSA: $1,910; Cumulative: $18,100,000

It started off slow, and now took a large drop, with North American audiences not responding to Ron Howard's Formula 1 biofilm anything like Europe, where the film has been in the lead position in most countries.

What comes next: This will struggle to make it in most theaters beyond one more week. However, worldwide it is much bigger, which should propel it into profit.

6. Don Juan (Relativity) Week 2 - Last weekend #5

$4,160,000 (-52%) in 2,422 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,718; Cumulative: $16,077,000

A big second week drop for this Joseph Gordon-Levitt directed and starring romantic comedy which has received a tepid response.

What comes next: With its low production and acquisition costs, though marketing added to expense, this should turn out OK for all involved.

7. Baggage Claim (20th Century-Fox) Week 2 - Last weekend #4

$4,125,000 (-54%) in 2,230 theaters (+11); PSA: $2,032: Cumulative: $15,185,000

A more than 50% drop isn't good news for this Fox Searchlight produced and marketed comedy, which aimed for the Tyler Perry comedy audience but hasn't connected anywhere close so far.

What comes next: This will struggle to get much beyond $20 million.

8. Insidious Chapter 2 (FilmDistrict) Week 4 - Last weekend #6

$3,876,000 (-41%%) in 2,607 theaters (-513); PSA: $1,487; Cumulative: $74,750,000

Not a bad drop for a horror sequel at this point in the run, and now more than $20 million ahead of the original.

What comes next: More chapters ahead no doubt.

9. Pulling Strings (Lionsgate) NEW - Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 56

$2,500,000 in 387 theaters; PSA: $6,460; Cumulative: $2,500,000

For the second time in recent weeks, Lionsgate's Mexican production partner Panteleon has opened a comedy (after "Instructions Not Included"), again starring a well-known actor (Jaime Camil here) that attracted a decent Latino response in limited release. It isn't close to what "Instructions" did (almost $8 million in fewer -- 348 -- theaters), but this is still good enough for ninth place and a better PSA than all of the top 10 except "Gravity."

What comes next: "Instructions" expanded quickly to reach over $40 million in five weeks already. This doesn't look like it has the same potential or close to it, but these numbers are actually closer to what Lionsgate expected the first time around, and suggest an ongoing appeal for Mexican-set films aimed at this strong base audience.

10. Enough Said (Fox Searchlight) Week 3 - Last weekend #11

$2,150,00 in 437 theaters (+210); PSA: $4,920; Cumulative: $5,387,000

Coming down to earth after two promising initial weeks, the figures suggest some limits to this 50-something romance starring Julia-Louis Dreyfus and James Gandolfini. The gross is only slightly better than last week's with almost twice as many theaters, which suggests little growth. And it is just below what Searchlight's "The Way, Way Back" took in its third week when it expanded to 305 theaters.

What comes next: Last week, this looked like it could grow into a success similar to "The Way, Way Back." This now looks like it will fall short, though it should easily pass the $10 million mark.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron, Prisoners, Enough Said

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.