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'Gravity' Tracking: Could Warner Bros. Space Epic Open to $40 Million?

Alfonso Cuaron's critically acclaimed film -- starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney -- hits U.S. theaters Oct. 4

With a week still to go before it blasts off in theaters, Gravity is looking like a formidable player at the box office.

Prerelease tracking suggests that Alfonso Cuaron's 3D space epic will gross between $35 million and $40 million in its domestic launch, although Warner Bros. is trying to keep expectations in check by saying it would be happy with anything above $30 million. The film opens Oct. 4.

Starring Sandra Bullock opposite George Clooney, Gravity quickly turned into a critical darling after it screened at all three of the marquee fall film festivals (Venice, Telluride and Toronto).

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Warners points out that October doesn't generally generate huge openings, particularly for adult-skewing dramas. David Fincher's The Social Network debuted to $22.4 million in October 2010, while Martin Scorsese's The Departed took in $26.9 million in early October 2006.

Gravity has several key advantages, however, including the upcharge for a 3D ticket. It will also play in Imax theaters, the favorite venue for fanboys.

More importantly, it could skew younger than other fall adult dramas.

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According to those with access to prerelease tracking, Gravity is pacing well across all age groups. Males over the age of 25 are expressing the most interest. Females under 25 are virtually tied with females over 25 in terms of interest, followed by males under the age of 25.

Gravity revolves around two astronauts left floating in space when their space shuttle is damaged (Bullock has a far bigger role). Producers include David Heyman, who played a key role in the Harry Potter franchise.

Bullock and Clooney aren't the only high-profile stars with movies opening on Oct. 4. That's also the premiere weekend for crime drama Runner Runner. From Regency Enterprises and Appian Way, the 20th Century Fox film stars Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton and Anthony Mackie.