Warner Bros. reports this morning that Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity debuted to an impressive $17.525 million on Friday, including Thursday night's $1.4 million grosses and $3.61 million from IMAX. That puts the dramatic sci-fi pic on pace for $52 million this weekend--topping 2004's Shark Tale ($47.6 million) as the best October debut for an original film. Overall, Gravity is aiming for the best October weekend, currently held by Paranormal Activity 3's $52.6 million.
WB's aggressive marketing succeeded in spades for the Sandra Bullock-George Clooney flick, both of whom claim new career highs with the film (topping $42.9 million for Clooney's Batman & Robin and $39.1 million for Bullock's The Heat). The studio pitched the groundbreaking visual effects-driven film as a fall event for audiences in the wake of phenomenal critical responses out of last month's film festivals. Early word of mouth among regular moviegoers appears strong, too: CinemaScore came in at a strong "A-" while the film's Flixster user rating has risen from 90 to 91 percent over the past day. With awards buzz assured to follow at this point, Gravity is poised to enjoy a healthy box office run throughout the fourth quarter.
Last weekend's top film fell to second, as expected. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 earned $4.7 million on its second Friday, down 49.2 percent from its opening day. The animated sequel has now tallied $43.76 million domestically in its first 8 days, 6.6 percent ahead of the pace of the 2009 original film. Cloudy 2 is on a trajectory for $20.5 million this weekend.
The weekend's second opener, Runner Runner, struggled to gain in traction in the shadow of Gravity. The Justin Timberlake-Ben Affleck thriller pulled a tepid $2.75 million on Friday (including $200k from Thursday night). Poor critical reviews may have contributed to this disappointing opening, but overall general audiences didn't seem interested in giving Affleck a chance as the villain of a film. Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake's drawing power at the box office again proves minimal. Runner Runner is on track to bank just $7.7 million this weekend--marking Affleck's lowest debut for a wide release since 2006's Hollywoodland ($5.9 million) and falling well short of Timberlake's In Time ($12.1 million). The film's CinemaScore is "C", while Flixster users have voted the flick down to a dismal 37 percent score.
Universal reports that Ron Howard's Rush grabbed another $1.4 million yesterday, off 62.3 percent from the previous Friday as another clear victim of Gravity pulling adult audiences away. Rush's domestic cume is now $15.1 million as it heads toward a $4.4 million weekend.
Prisoners added $1.73 million to its haul, making for a $43.9 million total after 15 days. BoxOffice projects a $5.7 million third weekend for the well-reviewed drama.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon slipped 56.8 percent from opening day to $1.42 million on Friday. The pic has totaled $13.3 million since its debut, about 2 percent off the pace of 50/50. Don Jon is expected to grab $4.3 million this weekend.
In limited release, Pulling Strings rang up $0.758 million yesterday and is headed for a $2.45 million frame. Enough Said added $0.595 million, increasing its total to $3.8 million. BoxOffice projects a $2.25 million weekend for Enough Said.
Additional reporting by Daniel Garris