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.