Gravity opened in North America this weekend to what can be called a celestial opening for the movie. It has earned the remarkable twin feat of being a commercial and critical success story. At time of writing, the movie enjoys a 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.8 rating on Imdb, having thrilled the critics and audience alike. To complement that, the movie topped the domestic box-office with a strong $55.5 million earnings for the weekend. That is a new opening weekend record for a film released in October, bettering the $52.6 million opening of 2011’s Paranormal Activity. The twin star power of Sandra Bullock (who is churning out one hit after another!) and George Clooney seems to have waved its magic, with the opening figures for Gravity also being their own personal best opening figures (not accounting for inflation). The strong publicity by Warner Bros. has also played its role in the movie’s success, as they made it clear that the movie deserved a 3D viewing, preferably an Imax show. Turns out that about 80% of the movie’s weekend collections came from the 3D shows, which in itself is a staggering proportion. And the higher collections from these shows would do the film’s business no harm. Director Alfonso Cuarón deserves the plaudits, and things should continue to remain strong from hereon for Gravity. Made on a production budget of $100 million, the film has collected $83 million in worldwide revenues over the first weekend. With the strong reviews and word-of-mouth, the earnings dip should not be too significant in the coming weekends, which should result in some strong returns for the studio by the end of the film’s theatrical run. The Oscar buzz too has begun, and nominations at least in the visual effects category should easily be on the cards. This Gravity is surely not coming down soon.
The other side of the coin in this weekend’s story is Runner Runner. While the movie had a smaller budget of $30 million, it has failed miserably at the box-office, opening with a measly $7.6 million. Packed with actors (Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton) who cannot really be called star attractions that could make a movie run the long run in the theatres by their very presence, the movie put all three together which did not help either. Panned both by audience and critics, the movie is bound to be forgotten soon enough and gives another indication why people root for Ben Affleck the director and not Ben Affleck the actor (and hence all the hue and cry over Ben Affleck the Batman?!). That’s one story of misery pinned with one story of glory which the weekend has brought for us. Between the two new releases, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 dipped only 37% for its second weekend, helped by the presence of more serious films around it, and continues a good run. More serious Oscar contenders in the form of Captain Phillips to come up next weekend (and no, we were not talking of Machete Kills); it’s turning out to be a time for good cinema indeed…
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Gravity ($55.6 million)
2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 ($21.5 million; second weekend)
3. Runner Runner ($7.6 million)
4. Prisoners ($5.7 million; third weekend)
5. Rush ($4.4 million; second weekend)