“Captain Phillips” set sail over the weekend with enough box-office bounty to give Tom Hanks his biggest hit since 2009, but there was simply no escaping the weight of “Gravity.” The sci-fi hit reigned for a second week in a row. “Machete Kills” never stood a chance.
The success of “Gravity” has put cinephiles in a celebratory mood. For starters, with the exception of a lone “Harry Potter” movie, director Alfonso Cuarón is mostly thought of as an art-house filmmaker. “Gravity” features a smart script, two leads who haven’t been in their twenties in decades, mesmerizing visuals that justify the 3D/IMAX format and a wave of positive reviews from film critics. Given each of those factors, industry types have been happily astonished to watch “Gravity” collect more than $123 million in a mere 10 days.
“Batman and Robin” star George Clooney was even able to kick his successor’s butt thanks to “Gravity,” as his star turn opposite Sandra Bullock took the second-week IMAX record from Christian Bale’s “The Dark Knight Rises” with a $9 million haul from the format.
Like the stars of “Gravity,” Tom Hanks has seen more than a half-century on this planet. True-life pirate tale “Captain Phillips” gave the A-list icon his biggest opening since 2009′s “Angels & Demons,” landing ashore with a very solid $26 million debut. With the post-summer lull of September in the rearview mirror, “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips” represent some of the more obvious Oscar hopefuls. Both films have been well-reviewed. “Captain Phillips” received a CinemaScore of “A” from audiences who saw it over the weekend.
“Gravity” gave each of its two leads their biggest opening weekend ever, but “Machete Kills” proved to be its mastermind’s lowest wide release debut. Robert Rodriguez is something of a self-contained studio in Texas, writing, directing, shooting, scoring and stuffing his films with familiar faces and more than a few big movie stars. Birthed from a trailer that played with Rodriguez’s half of “Grindhouse,” “Machete” was a b-movie worshipping vehicle for Danny Trejo in 2010. “Machete Kills” mustered merely a third of its predecessor’s opening weekend, grabbing just $3.8 million despite the inclusion of Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson.
The latest version of “Romeo and Juliet” to hit the big screen was also a flop over the weekend. The script was adapted by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes. Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) and Douglas Booth (Miley Cyrus’ “LOL”) took on the legendary lead roles, with “Gossip Girl” heartthrob Charles Bass himself, Ed Westwick, in a supporting role as Juliet’s none-too-nice cousin, Tybalt. Despite all of these promising elements, the movie was a critical and commercial failure, garnering $509,000 from 461 theaters.
The weekend’s top five looked like this: “Gravity” at #1 with $44.2 million; “Captain Phillips” at #2 with $26 million; family hit “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2″ with $14 million for a three week $78 million total; “Machete Kills” at #4 with $3.7 million; and the Justin Timberlake/Ben Affleck commercial disappointment “Runner Runner,” with $3.7 million for a two-week total of $14.1 million.
Much buzzed about Oscar hopeful “12 Years a Slave” arrives this weekend, alongside the remake of “Carrie” (starring Chloe Grace Moretz from “Kick-Ass” in the title role), Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Escape Plan”; WikiLeaks tale “The Fifth Estate,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange; Robert Redford’s “All is Lost”; and Daniel Radcliffe as beat poet Allen Ginsberg in “Kill Your Darlings.”