Space flick still the US box office high-flyer

Tom Hanks plays the titular role in  Captain Phillips . Photo / AP
Tom Hanks plays the titular role in Captain Phillips . Photo / AP

Star power and Oscar aspirations are reigning at the box office, where the space adventure "Gravity" and the Somali pirate docudrama "Captain Phillips" are holding off all comers.

With $31 million over the weekend according to studio estimates Sunday, "Gravity" topped the box office for the third straight week, cementing its status as the juggernaut of the fall movie-going season. It also took in another $33.5 million overseas.

The 3-D Warner Bros. movie, staring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, has now made more than $170 million in three weeks. The film's groundbreaking visuals have been particularly popular on IMAX screens, where it made an "Avatar"-like $7.4 million on the weekend.

"Captain Phillips," starring Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass, also held in second place, taking in $17.3 million in its second week. The Sony film slid only 33 percent from its debut last weekend of $25.7 million.

The two movies and their veteran stars were able to keep three new wide releases at bay: the horror remake "Carrie" ($17 million for Sony and MGM), the Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick "Escape Plan" ($9.8 million for Lionsgate), and the WikiLeaks drama "The Fifth Estate".

The last utterly flopped a fate predicted by its subject, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange taking in a paltry $1.7 million for Disney. It's the worst debut this year for a film in such wide release (1,769 theaters).

"It's a very strong lineup that is not budging," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, who noted the primary family choice, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2," is also holding steady with $10.1 million in its fourth week. "Carrie" came into a very competitive marketplace."

In a limited release of just 19 theaters, Steve McQueen's highly-anticipated slavery epic "12 Years a Slave," starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, opened with $960,000. The exceptionally high theater average of $50,000 suggested considerable audience eagerness for the already much-lauded film.

Cinematic earners

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak.
1. "Gravity," $31 million ($33.5 million international).
2. "Captain Phillips," $17.3 million ($9.1 million international).
3. "Carrie," $17 million.
4. "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2," $10.1 million ($5.1 million international).
5. "Escape Plan," $9.8 million ($9.4 million international).
6. "Prisoners," $2.1 million ($7.3 million international).
7. "Enough Said," $1.8 million.
8. "Fifth Estate," $1.7 million.
9. "Runner Runner," $1.6 million ($4.2 million international).
10. "Insidious Chapter 2," $1.5 million ($6.4 million international).

Estimated weekend ticket sales Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak:
1. "Gravity," $33.5 million.
2. "Turbo," $16 million.
3. "The Wolverine," $13.6 million.
4. "Special ID," $12.5 million.
5. "Stalingrad," $12.2 million.
6. "Escape Plan," $9.4 million.
7. "Captain Phillips," $9.1 million.
8. "Prisoners," $7.3 million.
9. "Despicable Me 2," $7.1 million.
10. "Insidious Chapter 2," $6.4 million.

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