In large part thanks to brisk 3D ticket sales, Alfonso Cuarón's Warner Bros.-released Gravity is bound to far surpass initial opening-weekend estimates at the North American box office. Starring Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) and George Clooney (Syriana, Argo), by Sunday evening the $100 million-budgeted two-character psychological thriller about two U.S. astronauts adrift in space was expected to collect around $40 million from 3,575 locations according to early tracking – with 91 percent of its tickets sales going to the film's whopping 3,150 3D venues. (For comparison's sake, back in 2009 3D theaters represented 90 percent of James Cameron's Avatar advance ticket sales.) (See also: “'Gravity': Biggest October Box Office Debut Ever for an 'Original Film.'“)
On late Thursday, October 3, 2013, and Friday midnight, Gravity took in a solid – but hardly outstanding – $1.4 million. Again, that seemed to indicate a weekend debut around $40 million. However, if early estimates found at The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.com are on target, Gravity has grossed approximately $17 million on Friday. And that means the Alfonso Cuarón / Sandra Bullock / George Clooney collaboration could well reach $50 million by Sunday evening – about 25 percent above early estimates. According to the Reporter, 83 percent of Gravity's opening weekend ticket sales came from 3D houses.
Internationally, Gravity opened with $3.8 million on Thursday in a handful of market, with nearly one third of that total originating in Russia: $1.2 million.
'Gravity' to have one of October's biggest domestic opening weekends ever
Without taking inflation into account, only two movies have opened north of $50 million at the U.S. and Canada box office: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's horror thriller Paranormal Activity 3, with $52.56 million, and Jeff Tremaine's tragedy Jackass 3-D, with $50.35 million. Now, once inflation is factored in, things change quite a bit. October's top opening weekend movie at the domestic box office actually is David Zucker's Scary Movie 3, with approximately $65 million, followed by DreamWorks' Rob Letterman-directed animated Shark Tale, with about $62 million, and Paranormal Activity 3, with about $54 million.
Additionally, four other movies earned an inflation-adjusted $50-51 million: the horror thriller The Grudge, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar; Brett Ratner's thriller Red Dragon, with Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, and Ralph Fiennes; Jackass-3D; and Olivier Megaton's thriller Taken 2, with Liam Neeson. Of the aforementioned movies, only one – guess which – was released in 3D.
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney: 'Gravity' cast
Written by Y Tu Mamá También and Children of Men's Alfonso Cuarón and his son, Jonás Cuarón, Gravity stars Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and the solar system. Additionally, you get to hear the voices of a handful of performers, including Apollo 13's Ed Harris, Paul Sharma, and Amy Warren.
Alfonso Cuarón is one of Gravity's two listed producers, alongside David Heyman, whose career spans more than two decades. Most notably, beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Heyman was one of the producers of the monumentally successful Harry Potter movie franchise. Among his other producing credits are the Will Smith star vehicle I Am Legend and the World War II drama The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
Official Friday box office estimates will be released on Saturday morning. Weekend estimates come out on Sunday, and weekend box office actuals will be released on Monday.
Sandra Bullock Gravity movie photo: Warner Bros.