Weekend Box Office: ‘Gravity’ Holds Down the Competition

It doesn’t always go this way, but I love when great movies receive their box office rewards and bad movies pay the price. This weekend, justice was served.

Early box office predictions put Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity‘ between $40 and $45 million. Friday’s numbers were strong, but Saturday’s were even better. With a 98% Rotten Tomatoes rating, glowing reviews and exceptionally positive word-of-mouth, the movie went on to close the weekend with an estimated $55.5 million, setting a new record for an October debut. Even 3D haters have praised the film’s use of the costly gimmick, which proved to make a difference. 80% of the record-setting gross came from 3D and large-screen formats. Aside from 3D-only releases (or re-releases), that’s the highest percentage for 3D to date. On top of that, $11.2 million of the $55.5 million came from IMAX showings. Unfortunately, ‘Captain Phillips’ will take over the IMAX screens next weekend, so if you haven’t experienced ‘Gravity’ in IMAX yet, you only have four days left to do so.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2‘ held over fairly well. Slipping less than 37% in attendance, the animated family flick added another $21.5 million to its $60.5 million ten-day run. However, it’s not like ‘Cloudy’ was ever in danger of not finishing in second place. ‘Runner Runner‘ stumbled and fell, with only $7.6 million from 3,026 screens. Despite starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, there’s no way that ‘Runner Runner’ will recoup its $30 million production budget in domestic box office returns.

In fourth place, ‘Prisoners‘ is still doing well enough. After 17 days on the silver screen, the child abduction drama has earned $47.8 million. Meanwhile, the fifth place flick isn’t doing so hot. Other movies are lapping Ron Howard’s ‘Rush‘, which grossed only a painful $4.4 million this weekend. Ten days into its wide release, the Formula One drama has only accumulated $18 million domestically.

Although it didn’t debut as well as the similar Mexican-American film ‘Instructions Not Included’, Lionsgate’s ‘Pulling Strings‘ made enough to crack the Top 10. Finishing in ninth place with $2.5 million, the film’s $6,460 per-screen average was the second-best of the Top 10 next to the $15,538 for ‘Gravity’.

On just three screens, Adam Scott’s indie divorce comedy ‘A.C.O.D.‘ settled for $20,000.

The Paul Rudd/Paul Giamatti comedy ‘All Is Bright‘ didn’t fare so well. On ten screens, it only managed to gross $4,100, which averages out to just $410 per screen. Ouch.

Top 10:

1. ‘Gravity’ (Warner Bros.) – $55,550,000

2. ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ (Sony) – $21,500,000

3. ‘Runner Runner’ (Fox) – $7,600,000

4. ‘Prisoners’ (Warner Bros.) – $5,700,000

5. ‘Rush’ (Universal) – $4,408,000

6. ‘Don Jon’ (Relativity) – $4,160,000

7. ‘Baggage Claim’ (Fox Searchlight) – $4,125,000

8. ‘Insidious Chapter 2’ (FilmDistrict) – $3,876,000

9. ‘Pulling Strings’ (Lionsgate) – $2,500,000

10. ‘Enough Said’ (Fox Searchlight) – $2,150,000


  1. Can’t they split IMAX screens, so that some can show ‘Gravity’, some show ‘Captain Phillips’ and some show something else? Why does one movie have to hog everything like a glutton?

    • William Henley

      I think studios make IMAX theaters sign a deal saying that movie is exclusive showing on those screens. By the time the movie gets produced in IMAX, that is costly to begin with, but then there are only a limited number of IMAX screens in the world. If you are going to spend all that money on an IMAX version, you would want to make sure that you can get it on the most number of screens possible.

      IMAX movies also tend to drop off sharply after the first week (well, actually, movies in general, but IMAX more so), so having a one week exclusive IMAX engagement is starting to become the norm.

    • I think it’s pretty lame how they fight for space too.

      Box Office Mojo posted a nice little error regarding this. It seems like they failed to notice ‘Captain Phillips’ taking over IMAX this weeked. “[‘Gravity’] gets to hold most of its IMAX and 3D showtimes for the rest of October, which means the premium-priced tickets are going to continue to be the go-to option for audiences.” Not true. If ‘Cap’n’ doesn’t do much in the way of 3D, I could see ‘Gravity’ and ‘Cap’n’ sharing the screen – kinda like ‘Cloudy 2’ and ‘Oz’ last week.

  2. Drew


    No, it’s not. ‘Gravity’ is playing at a constant 2.35:1, even on IMAX screens. This is all the more reason to see it in IMAX.

    I know that might not make sense, when you first consider it, but when a film like this is being displayed with an aspect ratio that limits the size of the frame (in certain ways), it’s even more important to see it on an absolutely ENORMOUS screen.

  3. Drew

    I read the article. He’s definitely wrong. I’ve seen this film three times. Twice in IMAX 3D, plus again in Atmos 3D. The aspect ratio is identical for each screening.

  4. Drew

    It’s certainly not. I’m not the only one that has posted about this. Just check out the comments in the original review blog post.

  5. Drew

    Not that this matters, but I also disagree with Mike about this film being a great example of use of Atmos technology. I much prefer the IMAX proprietary surround, to Atmos, for this movie. I felt that Atmos was really lacking, and didn’t add much to the experience. It just didn’t have the necessary power and bombast to properly convey what is at stake.

    • My Atmos cinema has plenty of power. I was wearing ear plugs. IMAX sound is terrific, but is limited by stereo rear and lack of height channels. Atmos is much more precise and detailed. IMAX might have more dynamic range given that it probably has more juice.

  6. Article updated. Drew correct and IMAX confirmed: all GRAVITY presentations are 2.4:1.

    My apologies, of course. I thought that was right, but then this editor I knew swore up and down it was open matte ala AVATAR and (parts of) TRON, so I called the brand new TCL IMAX and the manager said it wasn’t 2.4:1. Sigh.

    Fixed, and thanks for the help.

  7. Drew

    My Atmos cinema also has plenty of power. I’ve never felt that it needed more, for any other film that I’ve seen, in the format. However, no Atmos can rival the sheer brute force of IMAX, which is what I felt this particular film needed. There simply wasn’t enough going on, throughout most of the runtime, for Atmos to make a major difference. Atmos definitely gives us moments of superb clarity and brilliant directionality, but even during those moments, it wasn’t adding much more than IMAX does with stereo rears and 5 fronts. Atmos just isn’t the best way to listen to ‘Gravity’, or see ‘Gravity’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *