'Gravity' keeps 'Carrie,' box-office foes grounded

12:00 PM, Oct 20, 2013   |    comments
'Gravity,' with Sandra Bullock, was No. 1 for the third consecutive week. (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)
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Films about outer space are just asking for puns, and there's no getting around this one: Gravity won't come to Earth.

The sci-fi thriller that has become an early Oscar heavyweight and a box-office smash during a season that usually produces few claimed its third straight weekend at No. 1. The two-person film, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, hauled in $31 million, according to studio estimates from Rentrak. The $100 million movie has grossed $170.6 million.

The weekend performance made Gravity just the third film of the year to score a box-office three-peat, joining Lee Daniels' The Butler and Fast and Furious 6 as the only pictures to claim three weekend crowns.

Unlike those summer releases, however, Gravity is surging during early fall, when studios typically take a breath between summer and holiday/awards movies.

The film is finding traction elsewhere:

  • Adults While adults typically dominate during the fall season, they usually wait for holiday fare and Oscar bait. But Gravity's monstrous weekends have come thanks to adults 35 and over, who are making up 60% of audiences.
  • Women Distributor Warner Bros. cannily cut the original title of the movie, Gravity: A Space Adventure in 3D. The studio then played up the movie's stars, veterans of romantic comedies, even though there is no romantic element to the film. The moves attracted women, who make up almost half of audiences.
  • Fanboys For the teens and sci-fi hardcore, the studio peppered the Internet with trailers of the movie's effects-heavy opening.

The result, says Kim Hollis of Boxofficeprophets.com, is the cinematic trifecta: fans, critics and awards voters. She says, given the otherwise-sluggish calendar, "audiences still only have eyes for Gravity."

That's can't make Carrie very happy. The remake of the 1976 horror classic collected just $17 million, good for third place. Analysts expected about $25 million.

Captain Phillips, the Tom Hanks thriller at sea, took $17.3 million and second place, a strong hold and harbinger for Hanks' awards chances.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 took $10.1 million, followed by the jailhouse adventure Escape Plan with $9.8 million. Final figures are out Monday.

Despite Gravity's orbit, ticket sales were down about 10% from the same weekend last year.

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