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Weekend Estimates: Gravity Breaks October Record, Stakes Oscar Claim

October 6th, 2013

Success at the box office is no guarantee of awards, but it certainly doesn't do any harm. And by that metric, Gravity's chances of picking up an Oscar or three is taking a considerable turn for the better this weekend as the sci-fi thriller heads towards a celestial $55.6 million debut, according to Warner Bros.'s Sunday projection. That will comfortably set a record for the biggest weekend in October, overtaking Paranormal Activity 3's $52.6 million back in 2011. With Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave opening in the next two weeks, awards season is getting interesting.

Gravity also gives Sandra Bullock her best ever opening weekend for the second time this year: The Heat was her previous top mark with $39.1 million, which in turn topped The Blind Side ($34.1 million), which itself was ahead of The Proposal ($33.6 million). Considering Speed was 20 years ago, Bullock's recent surge in popularity is remarkable.

The film also gives George Clooney his best-ever opening weekend, although that honor applies only if one ignores the effects of inflation. (Batman & Robin's $42.9 million and The Perfect Storm's $41.3 million both top it comfortably when adjusted.) Director Alfonso Cuarón has Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in his resumé, so his personal records will remain safe.

This weekend's other wide opener did not fair so well. Runner Runner is headed towards a $7.6 million debut, according to Fox, which gives it a theater average of around $2,500. A rapid fade will ensue. In a more targeted release, however, Pulling Strings is another triumph for Pantelion Films, which is really on a roll right now. The romantic comedy will pull in about $2.4 million from 387 theaters for an average over $6,000. That doesn't put it in the same category as Instructions Not Included, which averaged $22,547 using an identical release strategy, but will support an extended run.

Returning films are mostly looking fairly quiet. Enough Said continues its healthy art house run though with a projected $2.15 million from 437 theaters.

In limited release, Linsanity is the leading film for which we have numbers so far. It should earn around $80,000 in nine venues. Let the Fire Burn is also enjoying a promising debut with a projected $5,375 in a single New York theater.

- Weekend Estimates

Bruce Nash

Filed under: Weekend Box Office, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Runner Runner, No se Aceptan Devoluciones, Enough Said, Let the Fire Burn, Pulling Strings, Linsanity, Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Alfonso Cuarón