Box Office: 'Captain Phillips' Enjoying Strong Friday, But 'Gravity' Is Still No. 1

The Somali pirate drama -- directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks -- is pacing to open north of $20 million.

Sony's Captain Phillips is doing solid matinee business at the Friday box office, putting the adult drama on course to gross north of $20 million in its North American debut.

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But Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity remains the bigger play and will have no trouble staying at No. 1. Friday's numbers suggest that the Warner Bros. space epic, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, will earn north of $35 million or more in its second weekend, pushing the film's North American total to upwards of $100 million by Sunday.

Directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips hopes to repeat the success of fellow adult drama Argo, which debuted in early October 2012 to $19.5 million. Captain Phillips, based on real events and hoping to be an awards player, should benefit from strong reviews. The movie earned $600,000 Thursday night.

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After Captain Phillips, the weekend's only other new wide player is exploitation action film Machete Kills, from writer-director Robert Rodriguez. Machete Kills is expected to open in the $7 million to $8 million range. Open Road paid $2 million to distribute the film, so it has limited financial exposure.

With a cast led by Danny Trejo and Michelle Rodriguez, Machete Kills is the third film based on the fake trailers accompanying Grindhouse.

Relativity is launching third-party title Romeo & Juliet, starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth as the star-crossed lovers, in a more limited run of 400-plus theaters. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes wrote the screenplay for the film, which is helmed by Carlo Carlei.

Relativity doesn't have any financial exposure on the film since it is a rent-a-system deal.