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Adults fueled another strong weekend at the North American box office as Warner Bros.’ Gravity stayed at No. 1 with a record $44.3 million and Sony’s Captain Phillips opened to a solid $26 million.
From director Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity raced past $100 million domestically to end the weekend with total earnings of $123.4 million. Worldwide, the space epic — starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney — has earned $191.4 million.
Gravity isn’t as much of a monster overseas, but it is still doing strong business. It dropped only 27 percent in its second weekend, grossing $28 million from 38 markets to come in No. 1 and pushing its foreign total to $68 million.
GUEST REVIEW: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on ‘Gravity’
Gravity slipped only 21 percent in its second weekend domestically — the lowest decline in history for a film that opened to more than $55 million (The Incredibles was the previous record holder at 29 percent). This doesn’t count holiday weekends. It’s also the lowest decline of the year to date for a movie playing in more than 2,000 theaters.
“This indicates the ability to open a tentpole in October,” said Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman, who also noted that the film is now playing to younger moviegoers, as well as to consumers who rarely take a trip to the multiplex.
Gravity continues to be a big draw in 3D (82 percent), with Imax theaters alone taking in a record $9 million over the weekend for total sales of $26.5 million. It’s the largest second weekend gross in Imax history.
Internationally, Gravity likewise is prospering in 3D. Russia, a huge 3D market, leads with a total $14.5 million, including weekend grosses of $4.3 million.
Gravity was somewhat slowed by the debut of Russian epic Stalingrad, which opened to a record-breaking $14.4 million — the biggest opening ever for a Russian film. Stalingrad also opened in the Ukraine, grossing $1.2 million.
The other big headline of the weekend was Paul Greengrass‘ Somali pirate pic Captain Phillips, which reverses a dry spell for Tom Hanks at the North American box office. The critically acclaimed film did better than expected after earning an A CinemaScore, eclipsing the $19.5 million earned a year ago by fellow adult drama Argo.
THR COVER: Inside the Intense ‘Captain Phillips’ Shoot
Captain Phillips, based on real events and costing $55 million to produce, skewed slightly male (52 percent), while more than 60 percent of the audience was over the age of 35. The film’s awards prospects should be boosted by its promising box office performance.
Hanks’ last several films have underperformed, particularly Cloud Atlas (2012) and Larry Crowne (2011).
“We couldn’t be happier to be a part of this film. To open to $26 million with Gravity being in the marketplace is an extraordinary feat,” said Sony president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer. “It says volumes for the film and its life. It’s one of those performances by Tom Hanks that everyone will want to see.”
After Captain Phillips, the weekend’s only other new wide player was exploitation action film Machete Kills, from writer-director Robert Rodriguez. Machete Kills quickly fizzled, debuting to roughly $3.8 million — the worst wide opening of the filmmaker’s career.
With a cast led by Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson and Michelle Rodriguez, Machete Kills is the third film based on the fake trailers accompanying Grindhouse. Receiving a B CinemaScore, the movie also stars Charlie Sheen (who is credited as Carlos Estevez), Lady Gaga and Antonio Banderas and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Machete Kills placed No. 4 after Gravity, Captain Phillips and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.
Cloudy 2, from Sony, grossed $14.2 million in its third weekend to place No. 3, pushing the family film’s total to $78 million.
New Regency’s ill-fated gambling thriller Runner Runner and Warner Bros.’ Prisoners tied for No. 5 with $3.7 million each.
Runner Runner, starring Justin Timberlake opposite Ben Affleck, continued to struggle in its second weekend, falling 52 percent to $3.7 million for a tepid domestic total of $14.1 million. Overseas, where the film is doing slightly better, Runner Runner grossed $5.3 million from 55 markets for an international total of $31.3 million and world total of $45.4 million.
Prisoners has grossed $53.6 million for Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. in North America.
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