Gravity, the science-fiction epic starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, collected about $56 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters, taking first place in its debut for Warner Bros. It was a record opening for October.
Runner Runner, the online-poker movie from 20th Century Fox featuring Justin Timberlake, took in about $8 million to place third, Hollywood.com said Sunday.
Gravity, about two astronauts cast adrift after a satellite explodes, won stellar reviews for Bullock’s performance and the direction of Alfonso Cuaron, who uses 3-D effects to depict the sensation of being in space. A strong box-office run would be a boon for Time Warner Inc., which is running a close second to NBC Universal this year with gross sales of $1.36 billion.
Gravity beats the record set by Paranormal Activity 3 in October 2011, when it had sales for $52.6 million.
Like last year’s Oscar contender Life of Pi, Gravity deals with the themes of isolation and desperation, rendering the action with three-dimensional visuals.
The movie was made for $100 million, according to Box Office Mojo, and was projected to take in $42 million over the past weekend, the estimate of Boxoffice.com, another researcher.
Warner Bros. expected Gravity to debut at $35 million, a conservative estimate, researcher SNL Kagan reported last week.
The film features Clooney as Matt Kowalski, a veteran astronaut, and Bullock as Ryan Stone, a new-to-space medical engineer, who find themselves cut off from Earth and floating when debris from a satellite hits their shuttle and damages it. The duo face one life-threatening challenge after another as they try to reach a space station before their oxygen runs out.
Cuaron, who co-wrote the film with his son, was praised by critics for conjuring the wonder of space as projected by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey 45 years ago, as well as the terror of it, shown in Ridley Scott’s Alien.
Runner Runner stars Timberlake as Richie Furst, a Princeton graduate student who loses his tuition fees playing online poker, suspects he was cheated and travels to Costa Rica to confront the operator of the online gambling site, played by Ben Affleck.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, the animated sequel from Columbia, dropped to second place with about $21 million.
Featuring the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris and Will Forte, the PG-rated movie has been well received in reviews for the quality of its animation and its visual humor.
Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, fell to fourth place from second last week with about $6 million. The suspense thriller from Warner Bros., about a father whose daughter is kidnapped, has been buoyed by reviews praising the force of the performances of its lead actors.
Rush, Ron Howard’s Formula 1 racing movie by Universal, placed fifth with about $4.5 million, after taking third two weekends ago. Starring Chris Hemsworth, it recounts the 1970s Formula One racing rivalry between the late James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
MovieStyle, Pages 34 on 10/11/2013
Print Headline: Gravity pulls in big audiences