Box Office: ‘Gravity’ marvels at no. 1 as ‘Captain Phillips’ is impressive at no. 2

After setting box office records last weekend, “Gravity” continued its phenomenal by grossing another $44 million.  That’s down just a jaw-dropping 20% from its opening and is almost unheard of for a film outside the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays.  The Alfonso Cuaron best picture contender has now earned $123.4 million in just 10 days.  Surpassing $200 million is a given.  Earning over $250 million is likely, but with “Ender’s Game” stealing its IMAX screens on Nov. 1 is $300 million out of the question?  Something to watch for.

Considering the “Gravity” onslaught, no one would have expected another film to hit over $20 million in October, but another prestige player was able to thrive in the marketplace.  Paul Geengrass’ “Captain Phillips” opened with stellar reviews to an excellent $26 million.  That’s Tom Hanks biggest debut since 2009’s “Angels & Demons” debuted with $46 million and his largest non-“Da Vinci” code opener since “Catch Me If You Can” stole $30 million in 2002.  Assuming “Phillips” can duplicate its domestic success overseas, Sony should have no problem making up the film’s reported $55 million budget. And if the DVD and download release are timed to the Oscar nominations, it should over perform in ancillaries as well.

Dropping to third was “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” which earned another $14.2 million for $78 million to date. With no serious family film competition for weeks, “Cloudy 2” still has a shot to earn well north of $100 million domestic.

Fourth place went to the sequel “Machete Kills” which grossed just $3.77 million for new distributor Open Road Films. That total was half of what pre-release polling indicated and far below the $11.5 million the first “Machete” found in 2010 when 20th Century Fox was in charge. It’s another puzzling disappointment for Open Road  which can only claim “A Haunted House” as a profitable release so far this year.

Speaking of bombs, 20th Century Fox’s “Runner, Runner” came to a screeching halt with just $3.72 million in its second weekend. The Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck thriller has now earned only $14 million in 10 days.

New releases Friday include the remake of “Carrie,” “Escape Plan,” “The Fifth Estate” and, on just 18 screens, “Twelve Years A Slave.”

Box office actuals are released on Monday.