Gravity Lifts Box Office; Runner Limps
By John Hamann
October 6, 2013
It's a good thing Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Gravity showed up at theaters this weekend. If they hadn't, the frame would have been a disaster. Instead, the 3D space epic opens as the largest October release ever, and sets the bar for all Oscar comers.
Gravity has been hurtling towards us for a few weeks now, as the Alfonso Cuaron project showed up at a number of film festivals, including its premiere as the opener for the Venice Film Festival, and gorgeous reviews started to roll in. Early critics said things like “the most realistic and beautifully choreographed film set in space,” or “it thrills on so many levels,” or “a master class in film making,” just to name a few. They touted that this is how 3D should be used, that Sandra Bullock was perfect in the role, and that this one is a sure-fire Oscar contender. This is the type of film that I wait for years for, the kind that we should all support. Too often, these really good films go unseen, and man, this is a good one. Currently, Gravity is 98% fresh at RottenTomatoes – 211 listed critics have posted, and Gravity has received only five negative reviews. The site’s top critics – 48 of them – all gave Gravity a big thumbs up.
The critics chimed in positively, leaving Gravity in the hands of moviegoers, the people who are most important to the film making process. It would appear that audiences caught the signals Gravity was sending, as through Thursday midnight screenings, Gravity earned about $1.4 million, an impressive debut for an adult-oriented Oscar contender. It went on to pull in about $17.5 million on Friday, making the Warner Bros. release a mega hit. That Friday number is more like $16.1 million with the Thursday midnight screenings removed, but regardless, it is still a mammoth opening day for a drama/thriller released in October. The Departed, another highly anticipated October Oscar release, earned $8.7 million on Friday, or about half of what Gravity did on opening day. Argo earned $19.5 million all weekend; and $5.9 million opening day. Gravity combines star power, an epic location and simple quality for the perfect box office storm.
Saturday and Sunday were also big for Gravity. On Saturday, the epic earned another $23 million, while Sunday was good for $15 million, leading to a huge overall weekend score of $55.6 million. Its weekend multiplier (weekend box office divided by Friday box office) was an amazing 3.17, and actually a little better if you pull the Thursday sneaks from the Friday total.
That means Gravity is the highest October opening ever, ahead of Paranormal Activity 3 ($52.6 million), Jackass 3D ($50.4 million) and Taken 2 ($49.5). It is also the biggest debut of both Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s long and respected careers. For Bullock, The Heat was her previous best, starting with $39.1 million in June of this year. For Clooney, Gravity finally washes away the opening total for the insanity that was 1997’s Batman and Robin. That ill-fated attempt at success debuted with $42.9 million, so Clooney will be happy to have that behind him.