'Gravity' Tops Tom Hanks' 'Captain Phillips' At the Box Office; 'Machete Kills' Bombs

The early results are in, and it looks like moviegoers are still flocking to Gravity in its second weekend. According to Deadline Hollywood, early estimates have Gravity collecting $43.3 million in its second weekend. Considering the movie brought in $55.8 million last weekend, that's an extremely impressive hold; off just 22%. 

Coming in second place was Captain Phillips, estimated at $26 million for the weekend. That's above expectations that were set in the low $20 million range. It's also a welcome box office gross after Tom Hanks' last three films didn't even break $40 million domestically

Finally, Machete Kills is expected to hit less than $4 million over the weekend. The film's marketing highlighted its overly campy nature, which can be a tough sell. Not helping the film were reviews that said it was far worse than the original Machete. With the first Machete having grossed just $26 million at the domestic box office, Machete Kills had modest expectations. Yet, a $4 million opening weekend can still be filed as a disappointment. 

Top heavy weekend

The comparable box office from last year featured Taken 2 in its second weekend at the box office and the opening weekends for Argo and Sinister. Those three films finished 1,2,3 at the box office and brought in a combined $59.4 million. 

This weekend, beyond Gravity and Captain Phillips at the top of the box office, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 rounded out the top 3 with an estimated $14.2 million. That should leave this weekend's top 3 films with $83.5 million, a robust gain relative to last year. 

The problem is that while moviegoers overwhelmingly flocked to those three films, Machete Kills is set to finish a distant fourth place this weekend with $3.9 million. Overall, films finishing in the 4-10 position at this weekend's box office brought in just a combined $20.5 million. Last year, film's 4-10 at the box office brought in nearly $58 million. 

The takeaway? While Gravity and Captain Phillips outperformed, the overall box office didn't see a breakout weekend. 

The return of 3D?

One storyline sure to pick up steam this week is whether 3D is back at the box office. After a disappointing summer where consumers saved their money and avoided 3D showings, Gravity has seen 84% of its box office come from 3D showings. 

It'd be convenient to use Gravity's performance as proof that 3D is making a comeback. We saw a Warner Bros. executive do just that, telling Deadline, "The demise of 3D in the domestic marketplace was totally premature." We've seen other films like Avatar create a cultural buzz where certain films became must-see in 3D. Gravity is promising in that it pushes a must-see 3D event outside of summer blockbuster season or winter, and into a movie with award season ambitions. 

Yet, Gravity is a unique movie with a talented cast and director. That is, its success won't be easy to replicate. Gravity will remain firmly entrenched across 3D showings in coming weeks and should continue with a series of strong weekend holds. That's a nice shot in the arm for 3D cinema.

However, taking one movie's genius and turning it into a rebirth for 3D looks to be more wishful thinking. 

Beyond the box office

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  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2013, at 10:58 AM, KombatKarl wrote:

    Saw Gravity in IMAX this weekend. It was some of the best 3D I had ever seen and my wife agreed. I normally don't need to see a movie in 3D, but this one had that "must-see" buzz about it, especially regarding IMAX. I think 3D works better with live action than animated films.

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