‘Gravity’ continues stellar run in theaters

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‘Gravity’ continues stellar run in theaters

LOS ANGELES - The 3-D outer space thriller “Gravity” kept a tight grip on U.S. and Canadian box offices over the weekend, eclipsing the debut of Somali pirate drama “Captain Phillips” in a battle between two Oscar hopefuls.

“Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts stranded in space, held the top spot on movie charts for a second weekend, grabbing $44.3 million in domestic ticket sales from Friday through Sunday.

The continued pull of “Gravity” beat the $26 million opening for “Captain Phillips,” a drama starring Tom Hanks in a story based on the real-life hijacking of a U.S. cargo ship.

Animated “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” took the No. 3 slot, collecting $14.3 million, according to studio estimates.

Both “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips” earned glowing reviews and mentions as likely Oscar contenders.

“Gravity” wowed critics with its 3-D depictions of space and weightlessness, while Hanks won praise for his portrayal of Captain Richard Phillips, the man taken hostage when Somali pirates seized his ship in 2009.

Ninety-seven percent of critics recommended “Gravity” in reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes Web site, slightly more than the 95 percent for “Captain Phillips.”

In “Gravity,” Bullock plays a novice astronaut and engineer alongside Clooney as the mission commander. After flying debris damages their shuttle, the pair are sent hurtling into space with depleting oxygen and remote chances of returning to Earth.

The movie took in record sales for an October weekend when it debuted a week ago. Filmgoers kept coming during the week, with many opting to pay for higher-priced 3-D tickets. The film scored the best second weekend ever for an IMAX film, with a take of $9 million, and North American sales for “Gravity” through Sunday reached about $123.4 million, according to Warner Bros.

“It’s word-of-mouth,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution, explaining the film’s remarkable performance, which included a drop of only 21 percent in receipts from the opening weekend which he said was a record for a wide-release film.

“We’re filling theaters in small, medium and large towns throughout North America, and our audience has really spread from [ages] 8 to 80,” Fellman added.

Though it couldn’t overcome “Gravity,” “Captain Phillips” exceeded predictions for a start of around $21 million. “This was a terrific opening for ‘Captain Phillips’ and we’re just beginning,” said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures’ worldwide president of distribution. Reuters
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