Alfonso Cuarón's Warner Bros.-released Gravity will undoubtedly have one of the biggest October openings ever at the North American box office. As mentioned in my previous Gravity box office post, Cuarón's mix of adventure, horror, suspense thriller, and psychological drama starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney was expected to earn around $40 million by Sunday evening. The Warner Bros.-distributed $100 million-budgeted film will, however, easily surpass that figure. (Note: some sources peg Gravity's budget at between $80 million and $120 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses.) (See also: "'Gravity' Box Office Record?")
The story of two U.S. astronauts adrift in the solar system after chunks of Earth-orbiting debris crash into their space shuttle, on Friday, October 4, 2013, Gravity brought in $17.52 million from 3,575 venues -- 3,150 of which showing the film in 3D -- according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. That figure includes $1.4 million from late Thursday and Friday midnight screenings. (Sunday update: Gravity opened with an estimated $55.6 million.)
Theoretically, in case it soars on Saturday (compared to Friday), Gravity could still reach $50 million this weekend, though estimates found online have the Alfonso Cuarón / Sandra Bullock / George Clooney collaboration topping at about $48 million. Saturday figures would be essential to more accurately predict the film's weekend hold, but early estimates aren't out yet. At worst, Gravity will rake in $44-46 million; at best $50-$51 million.
'Gravity' box office: Biggest October opening ever for an 'original film'
In case it grosses exactly $48 million by Sunday evening, Gravity will have the fourth highest October opening ever at the domestic box office -- behind only Paranormal Activity 3 ($52.56 million), Jackass-3D ($50.35 million), Taken 2 ($49.51 million), and Scary Movie 3 ($48.11 million). Well, that is, if you live somewhere in the solar system where the pull of inflation doesn't exist.
Now, if you live on Planet Earth, where inflation is a (heavy-duty) fact of life, Gravity's assumed $48 million would have it trailing not only the aforementioned four titles, but also Shark Tale, The Grudge, and Red Dragon -- thus landing at no. 8 on North America's October box office chart.
In number of ticket sales, the 3D / IMAX-surcharge-boosted Gravity would fall behind another half a dozen titles, among them the Zac Efron musical High School Musical 3: Senior Year and no less than three Saw movies.
Admittedly, in terms of sheer box office figures, even factoring in inflation, by Sunday evening Gravity will undoubtedly boast the top domestic October opening ever for an "original film," i.e., not a remake or a sequel (and in this case, not even based on a book or play or graphic novel). In number of ticket sales, Gravity will likely land somewhere in the vicinity of Couples Retreat -- though probably still slightly ahead of Jon Favreau / Vince Vaughn's critically lambasted comedy.
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney: 'Gravity' two-person cast
With a screenplay by Y Tu Mamá También and Children of Men's director Alfonso Cuarón and his son, Jonás Cuarón, Gravity stars Best Actress Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) and Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner George Clooney (Syriana; Clooney was also one of the producers of Ben Affleck's Best Picture Oscar winner Argo). Additionally, Gravity features a handful of disembodied voices, including those of Apollo 13's Ed Harris, Paul Sharma, and Amy Warren.
Besides his work as director and screenwriter, Alfonso Cuarón is also a Gravity producer alongside David Heyman, best known as one of the producers of the Harry Potter film franchise. Cuarón and Heyman had previously collaborated on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), at the time considered by some the best Harry Potter movie. Cuarón and Heyman are also supposed to join forces on the Scottish-set drama A Boy and His Shoe.
Official weekend box office estimates will be released on Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals come out on Monday.
Alfonso Cuarón directing Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity movie photo: Warner Bros.