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Box Office: Gravity Hurtles At Full Speed 

It's Amir here, bringing you the weekend box office report.

one more worry for the good Captain

The biggest news this week is Gravity's ridiculously small drop in sales. Anyone who has seen the film would tell you to watch it in 3D to truly experience it, and it's no surprise that with aid of those hiked up prices, Alfonso Cuaron's visual masterpiece topped the charts again by a wide margin. That's one extra problem Captain Richard Phillips didn't need to deal with, but as it turns out, Astronaut Sandra Bullock is even mightier than Muse. Although Captain Phillips's 26m opening is impressive enough, one can't help but imagine what it would have done without a direct competitor eating into its demographic.

Click for more cool Gravity postersWeekend's Top Ten
Gravity $44.2m
Captain Phillips
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2
Machete Kills
Runner Runner
Insidious Chapter 2
Don Jon
Baggage Claim

The weekend's other wide release was Machete Kills, opening to an embarrassing 3m, proving to you, dear reader, that you're not the only one who didn't even know this film exists. This flop is all the more curious because the franchise - oh god, it's a franchise now! - added proven box office draw Lady Gaga and current audience magnet Mel Gibson to its cast. Further down the top ten list, Runner Runner continues to fizzle out with 3m, proving to you, dear reader, that Justin Timberlake will never ever be a move star - though the film's international sales have already recouped its budget.

In limited release, Romeo and Juliet opened to less than a million dollars on nearly 500 screens. Perhaps the Oscar nominated Hailee Steinfeld is not ready to be a romantic lead yet, but the more likely reason behind the film's failure is that the world absolutely doesn't need another adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Other notable limited releases this weekend were the quirky horror film Escape From Tomorrow, which was secretly filmed in Disneyland, God Loves Uganda - I reviewed it at Hot Docs; see it! - and James Franco's As I Lay Dying. None of them did particularly strong business but at least two of them are worth your time. Finally, Saudi Arabia's first ever Oscar submission, Wadjda, is playing on 47 screens and if you haven't seen it yet, you must correct that immediately. It's bloody marvelous.

What did you see this weekend? Share your thoughts on the weekend's offering with us!

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Reader Comments (26)

I saw Gravity yesterday, and yes, everything you've heard is true. It was remarkably profound for a space thriller. It sort of reminded me of Groundhog Day in that "the meaning of life" was wrapped up in a genre film.

I'm impressed with America's good taste in propelling this movie to the top of the Box Office for two weeks in a row. I expect it will get a lot of Oscar nominations. I thought the sound design and visual effects (and yes cinematography) were amazing.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

that really is a sensational / extremely rare kind of holdover for Gravity week 2. could we be looking at another avatar where it just doesn't budge from #1?

your comments on machete kills are LOL ("proven box office draw Lady Gaga")

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

I think it's a bit of a myth that two films with similar audiences cannibalise each other. If they're good then there's always room for both (comparatively, this weekend's box office was down on last year, and there have been plenty of times where two monster grossers have competed against once another). CAPTAIN PHILLIPS made just as much as FLIGHT did last year and Tom Hanks is arguably not in the same level as Denzel Washington (although maybe after this one he will return there). Anyway, long story short, I don't think CAPTAIN PHILLIPS was hurt by GRAVITY. If anything, they helped each other.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Saw Escape from Tomorrow. I could understand people who thought it was interesting to pull off this film in that setting but goodness, it has a Troll 2 plot that desperately wants to be a David Lynch movie but has never seen a David Lynch movie. I knew Sundance hype tends to go in the opposite direction for me personally, but this was a real disappointment. Up there with The Place Beyond the Pines as my biggest disappointment of the year.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I only saw Her at the NYFF. As I posted in the related thread, it's a total knockout. Great movie.

To Glenn's point - agreed, I don't think these movies cannibalize each other at all. To the contrary, I think when people see smart, satisfying adult entertainment, it only makes them *more* likely to go see more movies. It's a benevolent cycle.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Nothing this weekend, but I'm finally seeing Short Term 12 tonight! I've fled to Omaha for the week, where it's actually playing at their kickass rep theater. The places TFE readers will go to see TFE-touted indies!

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Glenn - I think for younger demographics you're right, but for more adult-oriented fare, which the audience never cares particularly about seeing on the first weekend, it becomes more important. Captain Phillips can wait while they watch something everyone else is talking about, you know? I think it'll be interesting to see how well Captain Phillips holds next week.

Also, with respect to Flight, I think the draw wasn't entirely the same as Captain Phillips. For the latter, the marketing taps both into a 'us vs. them' nationalism angle and the action thriller background of the 'the director of the Bourne series.' With Flight the attraction was the star, and I know a lot of people in my age range who didn't see it in theatres because - and I'm not kidding here, this is verbatim from a group of friends - "it was gonna be a plane crash and then just talking for the rest of the film."

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Saw Runner Runner for the fuck of it, and I'm once again proven that internet people are unfairly harsh on Timberlake. Okay, sure, you can't classify him as a "great" actor, but the guy is solid enough, at least in that movie, regardless of its other flaws.

Add his truly impressive performances in Alpha Dog and The Social Network to the equation, and I think people are just hatin' to hate.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermma

mma- Not hating him at all. He was on my personal ballot that year for The Social Network. I'm merely suggesting that he will never be a film star the way he is in the music industry based on the sales figures. The films he's been in that have done well, have done so with very little help from his presence.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Lady Gaga and Mel Gibson are in a movie together?! What?

Anyway, I returned to Gravity for trip number two and I enjoyed it just as much the second time. I will get around to Captain Phillips eventually.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I saw Gloria. Best female lead in years.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue


Okay, that's a fair prediction. The guy is simply better in supporting roles anyway.

As far as the hatin' to hate, I was referring more to others I've seen around the interwebs, whereas a truly horrible lead performance like Charlie Hunnam in Pacific Rim gets a pass because Hunnam's in Sons of Anarchy.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermma

Slightly OT: I wish Rob Kazinsky had a bigger profile than Hunnam pre-Pacific Rim if just because he is not only more charismatic in Pacific Rim but also would kill 2 birds with one stone in eliminating two lookalike characters and his character arc made more sense as the central role.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Saw Don Jon yesterday and on the whole, I enjoyed it. Scarlett Johansson was dynamite and JGL was charismatic as usual. I didn't LOVE it, but it was just what I needed yesterday.

More importantly, I just found out that Short Term 12 is playing at a theater within a reasonable driving distance! I'm going to try to see it tonight.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I love the call out to "Wadjda", not only is the film marvelous but at the theatre it provided a treasured sight: whole families, including young children, going to see (and love) a subtitled foreign film. Priceless.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJJsDiner

My thing about Timberlake is I can't for a second believe him as a vulnerable guy. His public image is so put together that Timberlake as geek (horribly miscast in Bad Teacher) or on the run guy just doesn't fly for me. I bought him as Sean Parker precisely because of his entrance into the movie. Funnily enough, I have no such problems buying Lenny Kravitz in his roles.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJtagliere

peggysue -- right? Paulina Garcia is awesome in that movie.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

I saw Weekend again since my bf had never seen it. Still as good the 2nd time around, although it's weird how I remembered the ending to be different.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

She really is!!! La Bening will get very jealous if she ever sees the movie.

Back to Paulina, if film critics don't vote unanimously for Blanchett, she might get some traction with certain groups. I would be delighted.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Was pleasantly surprised to see Brie Larson pop up as the sister in "Don Jon." Every scene she was in, she just silently threw shade with her eyes while texting; marvelous. I was looking forward to her inevitable speech throughout the movie more than the oncoming resolution of the protagonist.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames

After a looooong 8 days of good movies (and one misfire: "Five Dances" at the Portland Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, we closed out with the fun, fizzy "GBF" (loses a bit of steam towards the end but a blast nonetheless), the surprisingly gripping and sweet "Geography Club" (much more dramatic than the novel), then Sunday was "Gravity" (an extremely well-done thriller with ace cinematography and special effects, and great work from Bullock and Clooney--but not the 2nd coming of cinema, people). Then Sunday night my partner surprised me and said he'd like to watch "C.O.G." via video-on-demand, so we didn't have to drive across town. It was extremely well-acted (Jonathan Groff is superb as the movie develops) and beautifully shot, but for a movie based on a David Sedaris short story is was very crabbed, bitter, and hard as an unripe apple. I did appreciate it, but it was much darker and less twisted-humor than I expected--well, except Corey Stoll's character and his "collection." I did find the main character's sexual orientation a bit bewildering; was the script/character sending out mixed signals?

I'm trying to psych myself up for "Captain Philliips," but it looks so relentlessly grim and tense that after "Gravity" I don't know if I'm up for it. Oh, also saw "Enough Said," which was charming but somewhat slight--I think the Gandolfini halo effect is helping sweeten the reviews.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDback

@Peggy Sue--I'm so mad I missed that one! I'm very very curious to see what the critics do with Best Actress this year. Obviously Blanchett will be everywhere, but I just can't imagine critics not going for Adele Exarchopoulos if they've seen the movie, and I've heard pretty much the same thing from people about Paulina Garcia.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

Yeah. Sadly we can only get one foreigner per year.

October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I saw the new Romeo and Juliet. Boo.

October 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

I only got to two movies this weekend, but both were at the top of the Box Office. "Captain Phillips" blew me away...made me realize just how much I love Paul Greengrass doing his thing (à la United 93). Hanks, if you ask me, deserves at least a Best Actor nomination, especially for the last sequence after the rescue. How did he do that??!!

As for "Gravity," I lean more towards Nat's opinion. For the first time ever, the 3D gave me a serious headache, which probably detracted from the experience. However, I kept focusing on the little questionable bits, e.g. how Bullock's hair didn't float in weightlessness. And...how did she manage to get out of a spacesuit in a weightless state, before you could even say "Supercalafajalistickespeealadojus"?? I presume that it will get its share of nominations, but how much it will win outside the tech categories (where it will likely clean up) seems uncertain.

October 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

Did not see too busy making my own movie.

October 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

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