Every great now and then, Americans absolutely eat up a film that exists well outside the box. In 2004, moviegoers made a monster hit out of an unspeakably gory film whose actors spoke Armenian (“Passion of the Christ”). These days it’s a relatively experimental space movie starring only two actors (albeit major stars).
For the third weekend in a row, the box office was ruled by Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney — and no one else — as astronauts fighting for survival. A whopping $31.3 million were added to its already sizable cume, bringing it to $170.5 million.
Granted, some of that haul is due to more expensive IMAX and/or 3-D ticket prices. “Gravity” is the kind of film that will lose something if not seen on the biggest screen imaginable, and audiences are in part being unusually proactive, catching it while they can.
Then again, in terms of appealing to the masses, no other film has come close. The weekend’s biggest new film, the latest stab at Stephen King’s “Carrie” — with Chloe Grace Moretz as the harried telekinetic high schooler enacting a wave of pig’s blood-drenched vengeance — scored a respectable $17 million.
It still only made third place. Silver went to “Captain Phillips,” another tale of survival, this one with Tom Hanks in the real-life story of a man kidnapped by Somali pirates. Its second week only fell off 32 percent from its first, with $17.3 million added to what’s now a $53 million haul.
The two other big new releases didn’t fare so well. Long ago — very long ago — the prospect of a mashup between Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been money in the bank. Today, the 67 and 66 year old, respectively, could only bring in $9.8 million for their prison break pic “The Escape Plan.”
Meanwhile, Disney gambled big on “The Fifth Estate,” the WikiLeaks biopic that stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. As an angry Assange himself predicted, audiences roundly rejected it, awarding it only $1.7 million, for a rather sad $1,769 per screen average.
Coming in eighth, “The Fifth Estate” made less money than other films in release for weeks. That includes “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2,” which made another $10 million for a $93.1 million total. And it includes “Enough Said,” the indie romance starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini, which made $1.8 million in its fifth weekend. That film’s total now stands at $10.7 million.