'Gravity' Dominates Disappointing October
by Ray Subers
November 1, 2013
For most of the month of October, Gravity ruled the box office with truly extraordinary results. Unfortunately, there were a slew of major bombs—including Runner Runner, Machete Kills and The Fifth Estate—and overall business was therefore down seven percent year-over-year to around $629 million.
Through four weeks in theaters, Gravity earned $206.1 million, which accounted for just under a third of total domestic box office earnings in October. It's already the highest-grossing movie ever to be released during the Fall (September or October) and will earn at least another $50 million before the end of its run.
Gravity's remarkable success can be attributed in part to Warner Bros.'s great marketing campaign, which helped the movie set an October opening weekend record ($55.8 million). From there, the movie had an unprecedented second weekend hold thanks to word-of-mouth that asserted the movie needed to be seen on the biggest screen possible (and preferably in 3D). Speaking of 3D—Gravity's box office has been pumped up by the fact that most people (around 80 percent) are choosing to pay an extra few bucks to see the movie in that premium-priced format.
While $300 million is now out of reach for Gravity, it's on pace to finish with at least $260 million at the domestic box office. The worldwide story is less clear at this point, though with China, Japan and the U.K. on the horizon, Gravity should be in pretty great shape by the end of its run.
Gravity grabbed all the headlines this month, though Captain Phillips was also a major success. Through its first three weeks, the true story thriller has grossed $74.1 million; that's ahead of The Social Network and Argo at the same point. Based on its current trajectory, it's likely that Captain Phillips ultimately closes north of $100 million.
In a month filled with PG-13 and R-rated fare, September holdover Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 was the exclusive choice for family audiences this month. The animated sequel placed third in October with $66.6 million, which pushed its overall total to $102 million. On a not-so-happy note, though, it now appears that Cloudy 2 will wind up grossing a bit less than the original Cloudy ($124.9 million).
The final October success story is Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, which opened to a very strong $32.1 million on the final weekend of the month. That's the second-highest opening yet for the franchise, and is on par attendance-wise with the 2002 original. For a spin-off, that's an impressive haul, and serves as a reminder that audiences love high-concept comedies.
Among the disappointments this month, the Carrie remake is probably in the best shape. Despite being the only new horror movie arriving ahead of Halloween, Carrie only managed to earn a weak $28.6 million through its first two weeks. It's falling off quickly, and should earn less than $40 million by the end of its run.
Five of the nine nationwide releases this month opened below $10 million, and all five are on track to be major failures.
Escape Plan, which paired 80s superstars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, earned just $19.3 million through two weeks in theaters. Ultimately it will gross more than The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head combined ($21.5 million), though that's not really saying much.
20th Century Fox released two star-studded crime thrillers, and both were dead-on-arrival. Runner Runner featured Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck, but could only round-up $19.1 million through four weeks. Meanwhile, Ridley Scott's The Counselor banked a meager $10.4 million through a week in theaters.
Machete Kills earned just $7.5 million, and will close with around one-third of the first Machete's total. That wasn't quite as bad as WikiLeaks movie The Fifth Estate, which was an utter debacle with just $3.15 million. Even 12 Years a Slave earned more than that ($4.16 million), and it never played in more than 123 theaters.
Year-to-date box office is at $8.8 billion, which is about even with last year. There are lots of strong contenders in the next two months—Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug—though it's not clear if the rest of the releases will be big enough to push 2013 to a new record.
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• 'Insidious' Leads Average September
• 'Despicable' Drives July to Second-Highest Monthly Gross Ever
• 'Man of Steel,' 'Monsters U' Lead Record-Setting June
• May Kicks Off Summer 2013 With Record Grosses
• March Not Strong Enough to Salvage First Quarter of 2013
• 'Identity Thief' Tops Abysmal February
• 2012 Holdovers Dominate First Month of 2013
• 2013 Preview
• 2012 Recap: Winners & Losers
• Domestic Box Office Sets New Yearly Record in 2012
• Blockbuster Franchises Help November 2012 Destroy Record
• October Calendar Grosses
• 2013 Grosses (2013-only releases)
• Year-to-Date Comparison