Gravity Remains Aloft as Captain Phillips Set Sail
By John Hamann
October 13, 2013
The accomplishment is even more impressive given the difference in release dates. Avatar's second weekend included Christmas and, as loyal readers of BOP know, that entire Christmas-New Year's Day box office period elevates the box office of all titles. How the Grinch Stole Christmas debuted the week before Thanksgiving, meaning that its second weekend was also holiday inflated. Finally, The Phantom Menace was a Wednesday release. Its Friday-Sunday total on its first weekend did not include $40.9 million in revenue from its first two days in theaters. The second weekend total of $51.4 million (also over Memorial Day weekend) is in reality much more indicative of a steep decline from the first five days of box office worth $105.7 million.
What does all of this data mean? Gravity can stake a claim as having the best second weekend hold of any $50+ million opener that was not holiday-inflated. It's either that or Columbus Day has suddenly become a box office factor. Spoilers: it hasn't. This is all about Gravity's lasting appeal.
The situation is magnified by the fact that October is historically a trainwreck for non-horror movie fare. What qualifies as strong holds for $25+ million openers in the month of October include Meet The Parents ($28.6 million opening, 26% drop) and The Departed ($26.9 million opening, 29% drop). Gravity almost doubled the debut frames of these movies and had better holds than both of them. With just two weekends in the books for Gravity, it is becoming a film whose box office we will talk about for years to come, and will inspire more top flight directors to use 3D as Oscar bait.
Gravity crossed the $100 million mark on Saturday, its ninth day, the same amount of time it took larger opening films like Fast and Furious ($71 million), The Lorax ($70.2 million), and The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million) to reach the same mark so early. Gravity is now a lock for $200 million plus, meaning it will surely finish near the top of all of Sandra Bullock’s releases, as her best is The Blind Side ($256 million domestic) and second is The Proposal ($164 million). For Clooney, this is going to be his biggest domestic earner, as his top thus far is Ocean’s 11 at $183.4 million. Gravity has a 10-day gross of $123.4 million, and will face off against Carrie and The Escape Plan next weekend for a third shot at number one.
That puts Captain Phillips in second, but it’s a very solid second, more so than most expected (BOP’s Reagen Sulewski almost nailed it with a $27.4 million estimate). Tom Hanks’ resurgence worked this weekend as Captain Phillips kicked its Oscar campaign into overdrive this weekend, opening the critically acclaimed thriller at 3,020 locations. As I discussed above, Sony needed a debut for Captain Phillips above the $20 million mark. That amount or more would check that box off the "Oscar need” list, and keep it relevant as a contender going forward. Captain Phillips earned more than expected, pulling in $26 million, and garnering a strong venue average of $8,609. That’s $7.5 million better than Argo’s debut of $19.5 million, meaning we can consider Captain Phillips a contender.