Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is now one of the top ten movies released in 2013 in North America. On its third weekend, October 18-20, 2013, Gravity was down a modest 28 percent, grossing $31.03 million from 3,820 locations in the U.S. and Canada according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. (Photo: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity.)
Gravity easily beat several underperforming newcomers in wide release:
- Kimberly Peirce's poorly received Carrie 2013 remake was a disappointment, collecting only an estimated $17 million. Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore star in the old Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie roles.
- Mikael Håfström's Escape Plan, teaming Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and The Passion of the Christ's Jim Caviezel bombed with a terrible $9.8 million. That's not surprising, considering the horrific box office performances of Stallone's Bullet to the Head and Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand earlier this year.
- Worst of all was Bill Condon's The Fifth Estate, starring Star Trek into Darkness' Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks drama will quickly disappear from view after raking in $1.71 million while averaging less than $1,000 per screen — $969 to be exact, in case studio estimates are on target. That's quite a comedown for Condon (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey, Dreamgirls), even if one ignores his previous two megahits, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Part 2, the final installments in the Twilight Saga movie series starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner.
Domestic box office: 'Gravity' vs. 'Avatar'
Gravity's current domestic cume is an estimated $170.56 million — no. 10 on the North American box office chart, having just surpassed The Heat. For comparison's sake: on its third weekend out, James Cameron's Avatar had collected $352.11 million in the U.S. and Canada; that's more than Gravity will gross during its entire domestic run.
Of course, though lacking "star appeal," Avatar — which features Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver — had other box office-friendly advantages. Cameron's megabudgeted 2009 sci-fier opened during the much busier Christmas / New Year's season, at a time when 3D was still a novelty for live action movies. As a box office plus, the James Cameron brand helped moviegoers to associate the futuristic ecologically conscious adventure with the period romantic melodrama (and global megablockbuster) Titanic, released a dozen years earlier.
And needless to say, despite similarities between Gravity and Avatar, the two 3D movies are quite different in terms of scope, theme, and tone. That helps to explain why the more adult-minded Gravity could never become another Avatar at the box office — not in North America, and most likely not anywhere else either.
Having said that, the $100 million-budgeted Gravity is performing way above expectations. By next weekend, it should pass The Croods to become the ninth highest-grossing 2013 movie at the domestic box office.
By the end of its run, Gravity should be among the year's top six or seven movies, trailing only Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man 3, the animated Despicable Me 2, and Henry Cavill's Man of Steel, in addition to possibly one or more of the following upcoming entries: Jennifer Lawrence's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Chris Hemsworth's Thor: The Dark World; and Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Among the aforementioned titles, Gravity is the only one that isn't a sequel or a reboot. In fact, the film isn't based on any previously published or produced material. The Gravity screenplay was written by father and son duo Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón.
And finally, I should add that Gravity also topped the international box office this weekend; the film's international cume currently stands at $114.2 million from 51 territories. Its worldwide gross is 284.76 million.
Sandra Bullock: Two movies on 2013's top twelve box office chart
Best Actress Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) currently has two movies on North America's top twelve box office chart. At no. 11 — having just fallen behind Gravity — is The Heat, starring Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.
Leaving aside female satellites to superheroes and other male leads (i.e., Gwyneth Paltrow in Iron Man 3, Amy Adams in Man of Steel, Mila Kunis in Oz the Great and Powerful), Jennifer Aniston is the only other lead actress with a movie on the domestic top twelve box office chart: the ensemble comedy We're the Millers.
Note from the Editor: Thanks to Twilight fever, Kristen Stewart is one of the rare actresses in the last few decades to have had at least one of her star vehicles included for five years in a row on North America's top ten box office chart. In fact, Stewart is quite possibly the only actress in the past four decades to have achieved that feat.
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney Gravity photo: Warner Bros.