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‘Gravity’ Leads for Third Week While WikiLeaks Flops

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'Captain Phillips'
Tom Hanks in "Captain Phillips." Source: 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. via Bloomberg

(Corrects top 10 in second to last paragraph, table)

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- “Gravity” collected $31 million to lead the box office for a third week, as a film about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange failed to find an audience.

“Gravity,” the space thriller from Warner Bros., has taken in $170.6 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters since Oct. 4, researcher Rentrak Corp. said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “The Fifth Estate,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange, opened in eighth with $1.7 million for DreamWorks Pictures and distributor Walt Disney Co.

“Gravity” is the first film to to lead for three weeks straight since “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in December 2012. The movie has won critical acclaim for its star, Sandra Bullock, and director Alfonso Cuaron, while packing in audiences. Debuts this week failed to slow it down, including the reboot of the horror classic “Carrie,” which came in third with $17 million.

“It’s a direct reflection of good word of mouth,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “It doesn’t matter what the competition is. It steamrolls along.”

3-D tickets accounted for more than 80 percent of “Gravity’s” sales the first two weekends, according to Boxoffice.com, another researcher.

Cast Adrift

Made for $100 million, “Gravity” has helped lift Warner Bros. to No. 1 in domestic sales this year. Together with “Prisoners,” the kidnapping drama starring Hugh Jackman, “Gravity” has given Time Warner Inc.’s studio the No. 1 film in four of the past five weekends.

In “Gravity,” Bullock plays Ryan Stone, a new-to-space medical engineer, opposite George Clooney, a veteran astronaut who talks Stone through her panic when debris from a satellite hits their shuttle and damages it. The two, left adrift, try to make it to a Chinese space station before their oxygen runs out.

“The Fifth Estate,” made for an estimated $28 million according to Box Office Mojo, missed modest estimates. The movie is a portrait of Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who gained notoriety for releasing thousands of U.S. classified military and diplomatic cables through his anti-secrecy website.

Daniel Bruhl co-stars as Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Assange’s associate, on whose book the movie partly draws from. It was projected to take in $4.2 million, according to BoxOffice.com.

Blood Bath

“Carrie,” a remake of the 1976 Brian De Palma movie, stars Chloe Grace Moretz as the shy prom queen who unleashes supernatural terror on her small town after a humiliating prank. The picture, based on the novel by Stephen King, was made for $30 million, according to Box Office Mojo. It was projected to take in $24 million in its debut, according to BoxOffice.com, another researcher.

The remake “is never able to get past De Palma’s singular imprint to make a distinctive statement of its own,” wrote Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times.

“Captain Phillips,” the acclaimed Somali-pirate shipping drama with Tom Hanks, generated $17.3 million in ticket sales its second weekend, to place second for Sony. The movie is based on the true story of the hijacking of the U.S. cargo ship, the Maersk Alabama, in 2009.

“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2,” the animated sequel also from Sony, dropped to fourth place, collecting $10.1 million.

Slave Saga

“Escape Plan,” about a prison escape, was the third debut shown widely in theaters. It features Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger and took in $9.8 million to place fifth for Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. It was projected to collect $9 million in its debut.

Two award contenders opened in limited release.

“12 Years a Slave,” from Fox Searchlight and British director Steve McQueen, is an adaptation of an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup. A free black man, Northup was kidnapped, sold and sent to a Southern plantation, where he survived a dozen years of backbreaking labor and mistreatment.

“All Is Lost,” from Roadside Attractions, stars Robert Redford as a yachtsman adrift at sea.

Both movies have drawn rave reviews, with Redford “giving the performance of his life,” the New York Times said. Chiwetel Ejiofor delivered a “shattering central performance” in the main role of “12 Years a Slave,” according to Bloomberg News.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films fell 19 percent to $94 million from a year earlier, Rentrak said. Revenue is up less than 1 percent to $8.57 billion year to date.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for Oct. 18 and Oct. 19, and estimates for yesterday.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
===============================================================
1 GRAVITY              $31.0   3,820   $8,123   -28  $170.5   3
2 CAPTAIN PHILLIPS      17.3   3,020    5,728   -33    53.3   2
3 CARRIE                17.0   3,157    5,385   --     17.0   1
4 CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE  10.1   3,602    2,804   -27    93.1   4
5 ESCAPE PLAN            9.8   2,883    3,399   --      9.8   1
6 PRISONERS              2.1   2,160      956   -43    57.3   5
7 ENOUGH SAID            1.8     757    2,378    -6    10.8   5
8 FIFTH ESTATE           1.7   1,769      969   --      1.7   1
9 RUNNER RUNNER          1.6   2,011      808   -57    17.5   3
10 INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2   1.5   1,665      921   -44    80.9   6


Top 10 Films Grosses:

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $94.0        $115.6       -19


Year-to-Date Revenue:

     2013          2012
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $8,568.0      $8,514.8    +0.6

Source: Rentrak

To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Livesey in San Francisco at blivesey@bloomberg.net; Scott Moritz in New York at smoritz6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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