Gravity Lifts Box Office; Runner Limps
By John Hamann
October 6, 2013
The real winner here though, in my opinion, is 3D. After a few years of 2D to 3D conversions for the sake of the mark up only (Clash of the Titans), or just simply using 3D despite no real impact to the film (Jack the Giant Slayer), we have seen the brand muddied to no end. With Gravity, with have a real Oscar contender (sorry, Hugo) that can thrust 3D into the limelight. Filmmakers need to start using 3D the way it was meant to be used, like with a spacewalk gone awry. Hopefully audiences will start being able to spot the fakers, and promote films like Gravity that are actually doing it right.
Warner Bros. spent $100 million making Gravity, and for a movie released in October, that is a huge budget and a definite gamble for the studio. What’s more, Warner Bros. put forward a truly impressive ad campaign, marrying the gorgeous visuals of Cuaron’s film with the outstanding reviews. The trailers were outstanding, as was the lead up to release. As we discussed with Prisoners, it has become a very shrewd move for studios to stir up discussion at these major film festivals, which then lead into North American advertising campaigns. We saw Prisoners play its hand well, but now we have seen the masterstroke of Gravity's marketing. Warner Bros. will earn that $100 million production cost domestically quite easily. It will also earn that marketing cost back stateside should legs be decent (and I don’t doubt that they will be), leaving overseas revenue as profit for the studio. I love this movie, but I love audiences for supporting it on opening weekend even more.
I would be happier leaving this column at Gravity, but finishing second this weekend is last weekend’s number one film, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (it’s fun just saying it!!). The animated film was looking for a decent hold, but with Gravity on display, it must have been tough for Cloudy 2 to keep the 3D screens it had last weekend. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 earned $21.5 million in its second frame, which means it fell 37% from its opening weekend score. That’s a typical second weekend drop for an animated kids flick, especially since the 3D screens would have been in short supply. Also, Cloudy 2 is a sequel, which means those that really wanted to see it might have rushed out over opening weekend. Cloudy 2 is still on target for a $100 million domestic take, and with a lower budget this time at $78 million, Sony is going to make out just fine with this one. Cloudy 2 has the kids market sewn up until November 1st, when Ender’s Game and the animated Free Birds hit theaters. So far, Cloudy 2 has earned $60.6 million stateside and is just getting started overseas.
Third goes to Runner Runner, the new film with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake. If it’s got Big Ben, it must be good, right? Right? Ummm, no. Runner Runner is the antithesis of Gravity. Runner Runner, a poorly put-together card shark film with some decent names, earned a sad $7.6 million over opening weekend for 20th Century Fox, who will be very happy that they only spent $30 million making this dreck. The thriller was an ugly 8% at RottenTomatoes at the time of this writing, or a county mile away from the 96% fresh rating Argo earned when it was released a year ago. There is nothing to see here, and I advise that we all just move on.