Gravity Levitates Far Above the Rest at the Weekend Box Office

It is weekend box office aftermath time, and Scott is here to analyze the carnage.


The weekend has come and gone and atop the pile stands Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. There was a great deal of critical appreciation for this film heading into its opening weekend, and audiences proved that they are on board. It is not often that both of those camps are in complete agreement, but such is the case here. Gravity was able to snatch the record of highest October opening weekend from Paranormal Activity 3 ($52.5 million in 2011) with $55.7 million. Myself, I had been feeling sort of confident with my $40 million dollar prediction, which was in the ballpark of others but a little more to the low end. Normally as a weekend progresses, the projections for a movie drop but for Gravity they kept getting altered with higher and higher numbers. What exactly caused that?

Well, a decent movie may have a slight drop in grosses from the Friday to Saturday and then a much more significant drop on Sunday. A good example of a movie that performs better than the norm was The Conjuring, which did exceptionally well when it was released back in July. The James Wan directed horror movie dropped only 18% on its opening Saturday and then 21% on Sunday (The Conjuring actually had a better Friday through Sunday hold than did Iron Man 3 - 33.5% to 36.7% respectively). When we look at Gravity, we see that it gained an incredible 32% on Saturday and then a drop of 33% to Sunday. If my math is correct (and I believe that it must be, ever since I became a self-appointed ‘mathamagician’ once I realized that I had the ability to make remainders disappear) then the Friday to Sunday drop is a ridiculously low 12.6%. That is a great example of solid word of mouth and a sign that this movie may not depreciate a whole lot into next weekend, as it very well should be able to hold onto first place and thwart the attempts of newcomer Captain Phillips.

While one movie over performed this weekend, another one went in the other direction as Runner Runner had an underwhelming opening weekend of $7.7 million. While nobody was expecting a great outing for this crime thriller starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, most were thinking it could do a lot better. There is a lot to be said for scheduling, and this weekend may have been one of the worst options for Runner Runner. Not only was it running against a movie that dominated, but it was against a fellow thriller (the highest opening weekend for a thriller this year). Maybe at another time it could have held up a little better, but that is just complete speculation. The folks involved with this movie can at least be happy that it has already done over $11 million in foreign markets.

Also making it into the top ten this week was two limited release movies, both of them romantic comedies. One of them was the debuting Pulling Strings, which is a Spanish language movie that had earned $2.4 million from 387 theatres and showed that there is a hungry market out there. A month ago, Instructions Not Included started its march towards a $40 million dollar gross and reminded distributors that perhaps the Latino market needs to be remembered. Pulling Strings averaged $6,375 per theatre and was able to land in ninth place this weekend.

The other limited release movie to crack the top ten was Enough Said, the romantic comedy starring James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It expanded to 437 theatres from 227 last week, and made $2.1 million and averaged $5,017 per theatre. It is getting a bit of Oscar talk right now (albeit not incredibly strong talk at the moment) and has a great Rotten Tomatoes rating of 95%. Count me as one of the lucky folk who was able to take in this delightful movie about two divorcees, about to turn empty nesters, who find themselves fumbling through the game of courtship once again.