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Box office report: 'Gravity' pulls in record-breaking $55.6 million

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Warner Bros.’ $100 million Alfonso Cuarón-directed thriller Gravity blasted off on its opening weekend at the box office, scoring a stunning $55.6 million from 3,575 theaters. The sci-fi title, which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, set a new October opening weekend record, surpassing Paranormal Activity 3‘s $52.6 million debut in 2011.

Gravity also marks the best-ever debut for both of its stars, beating Bullock’s $39.1 million start for this summer’s The Heat (talk about having a great year at the box office!) and Clooney’s $42.9 million debut for Batman & Robin in 1997. And to put a cherry on top of Warner Bros.’ incredible weekend, audiences issued Gravity an excellent “A-” CinemaScore grade, which will yield great word-of-mouth for weeks to come. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Gravity' headed for a stellar debut

Gravity has been earning out-of-this-world reviews, but will its box office match the buzz?

Here’s how I think the box office might shake out this weekend:

1. Gravity – $41 million
Warner Bros. has put its full marketing force behind Gravity over the past few months — a sure sign that the studio is feeling good about Alfonso Cuaron’s $80 million sci-fi thriller, which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The film has garnered spectacular pre-release buzz thanks to glowing critical reactions (it has a 98 percent “Fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes) and its strikingly sparse trailers, which conclude with the harrowing image of a heavy-breathing Bullock floating away helplessly into the void of outer space.

It’s been a mixed year for original sci-fi films at the box office. Oblivion and Pacific Rim both opened with about $37 million, but they proved exceedingly frontloaded, finishing with $89.1 million and $101.6 million domestically — far less than their budgets. Elysium, meanwhile, opened to an underwhelming $29.8 million. Gravity has a more accessible plot line than any of those films, and Bullock’s presence should draw more women to the theater. Add in Oscar buzz and popcorn appeal and Gravity seems poised to have major pull. I’m thinking it hits $41 million for the weekend. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2' rolls past 'Rush', 'Don Jon' with $35 million debut

Four years after the original Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs stormed theaters, Sony’s $78 million sequel Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 topped the chart once again, earning $35 million in its first weekend. The film opened in an ultra-wide 4,001 theaters, and it notched a strong $8,748 location average.

The first Cloudy scored $30.3 million in its debut frame on the way to a $124.9 million finish. Most prognosticators were expecting Cloudy 2 to finish above the $40 million mark — in the same range as Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania, which opened last September with $42.5 million, the best September debut in history. Cloudy 2 finished a bit below that, but it still notched the fourth best September bow of all time behind Transylvania, Insidious Chapter 2 ($40.3 million), and Sweet Home Alabama ($35.6 million).

The film benefited from a lack of animated competition in the marketplace. Planes, the last animated title to hit theaters, debuted nearly two months ago, and moving ahead, Cloudy should endure quite well due to a dearth of family films in October. The next kiddie flick entering theaters is the Thanksgiving-themed Free Birds on Nov. 1. Thus, Cloudy, with its “A-” CinemaScore grade, should have no trouble playing to parents and children for weeks to come.

Last weekend’s champion, Prisoners, locked up another $11.3 million in its second frame, with a 46 percent drop from its $20.8 million debut last weekend. Warner Bros.’ $46 million revenge thriller, which stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, has now earned $39 million. Despite great reviews, though, the drama is facing serious competition from other well-reviewed adult fare such as Rush and Don Jon (and next weekend’s Gravity), which could limit its final box office potential.

That said, Ron Howard’s Formula One racing drama Rush raced off with a rather lackluster $10.3 million in its expansion from five theaters into 2,297 locations. The Universal-distributed film, which stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl, marks a major decrease from Howard’s last sports drama, Cinderella Man, which punched up $18.3 million in its 2005 debut. For Hemsworth, Rush (obviously) started off slower than both Thor and The Avengers, but it also under-performed compared to his non-superhero vehicles The Cabin in the Woods ($14.7 million) and Red Dawn ($14.3 million). The film will need great word of mouth to drive it to profitability, and given its strong “A-” CinemaScore, it may achieve that. Also working in Rush‘s favor? Its relatively low $38 million budget.

Two newcomers rounded out the Top 5, though both finished the weekend with rather lackluster totals. The Paula Patton-starring romantic comedy Baggage Claim flew away with $9.3 million from 2,027 theaters, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s porn-addiction comedy Don Jon pulled in a more tepid $9 million from 2,422 theaters. Baggage Claim‘s  “A-” CinemaScore grade suggests it could find an audience in the weeks to come, though Don Jon’s weak “C+” grade may signify challenging word of mouth (despite strong reviews) down the road. Fortunately, Don Jon cost only $6 million to produce, so it should turn  a nice profit for Relativity. Fox Searchlight did not disclose the budget for Baggage Claim.

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – $35 million
2. Prisoners – $11.3 million
3. Rush – $10.3 million
4. Baggage Claim – $9.3 million
5. Don Jon – $9 million

Further down the chart, Eugenio Derbez’s Spanish-language comedy Instructions Not Included scored another $3.4 million from 948 theaters, for a remarkable $38.6 million cumulative total. The film surpassed Pan’s Labyrinth ($37.6 million) this weekend to become the highest-grossing Spanish-language film in U.S. box office history. It’s a major winner for young distributor Pantelion, a joint venture of Lionsgate and Mexican media company Televisa.

This weekend, Sandra Bullock’s ultra buzzy sci-fi thriller Gravity floats into theaters — as does the rather unbuzzy Justin Timberlake-Ben Affleck thriller Runner Runner. Check back to EW to see how both films fare at the box office.

Box office update: 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2' wins Friday with $9.3 million; 'Rush' races into second place

Sony’s $78 million sequel Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 pulled in $9.3 million on its Friday debut, putting it at the top of the box office. The film will easily outgross the original Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs‘ $30.2 million debut, though it will likely miss the $40 million mark that most prognosticators assumed it would reach this weekend. Cloudy 2 should make it rain to the tune of about $35 million.

In second place, Ron Howard’s Formula One racing drama Rush drove away with $3.7 million on Friday after expanding from five theaters into 2,297 locations. The film, which stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl, should score about $11 million this weekend — a big step down form Howard’s last sports drama, Cinderella Man, which punched up $18.3 million in 2005. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2' ready to make it rain

For the past two months, Disney’s Planes has had the animated field to itself, but some new family competition is ready to storm the box office this weekend. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 should easily top the chart in its first three days, outgrossing newcomers Don Jon and Baggage Claim — as well as Rush, which races into wide expansion. Here’s how the Top 5 might look:

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – $43 million
On this weekend last year, Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania broke the September opening weekend record with a $42.5 million debut. This time around, the studio’s sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 could set a new high point out of 4,001 theaters. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs opened to a solid $30.2 million in 2009, and thanks to that film’s great reception, the sequel is poised to reach a much larger audience. Add in the lack of current animated competition in the marketplace, and Cloudy 2‘s innovative story line, which features food that has come to life, and the film could score $43 million in its first three days. That would put it over halfway to earning back its $78 million budget.

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'Rush': Olivia Wilde, Chris Hemsworth in high-octane scene -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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Rush, the upcoming biopic about the rivalry between 1970s Formula 1 race car drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), may be about the need for speed, but the flirtation between Olivia Wilde as Suzy Miller and Hemsworth as charming Englishman Hunt will get hearts racing, too. The film, directed by Ron Howard, comes out in theaters on Sept. 20 and will be featured at the Toronto Film Festival.

In the clip below, Miller — decked out in an incredible fur coat and purple hat — is working her wiles on the burly Hunt. Swoon at the clothes, swoon at the accents and await the release.
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How Chris Hemsworth lost 30 pounds for 'Rush'

Chris Hemsworth was still filming The Avengers when made an audition tape for the role of British Formula One driver James Hunt in Rush. The tape impressed Rush director Ron Howard and the film’s writer-producer Peter Morgan, but the pair had one major concern. As Hemsworth was still filming The Avengers he had the musclebound physique of Thor rather than that of the lithe Hunt. “He had the right look, assuming he could lose the weight,” says Howard. “Chris said, ‘Thor can’t even get in an F1 car — but I will be able to.'”

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'Rush' trailer: Chris Hemsworth takes to the track -- VIDEO

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November too long of a wait to get your Hemsworth brother fix?

Never fear: Liam’s brother Chris will be in theaters this September with Ron Howard’s Rush, the true story of two great rivals: English playboy James Hunt (Hemsworth) and his methodical opponent, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). The 1970s-set picture focuses on the competitive and elite world of Formula One racing, with a script by heavyweight Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen).

“People ask what has Rush been like and I say, from a filmmaking standpoint, it’s been kind of like a cross between Apollo 13 and Backdraft,” Howard previously told EW. “In the case of Apollo 13, that’s for the complexity and the authenticity and the intent to capture an era and an endeavor that blends technology, action and danger.”

Check out the trailer — which, yes, does feature plenty of shots of Hemswoth without the helmet on — below:
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Ron Howard: 'Rush' revved up NASA memories, 'Backdraft' fears -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

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The year, make, and model were quite different but Rush filmmaker Ron Howard has felt the rumbling power of iconic cars when it comes to engines of cinema and symbolism. It was 40 years ago this summer that one of the ultimate automobile movies, American Graffiti, rumbled into box office history and steered Howard toward television and Happy Days.

Howard is a two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker and with Rush (featured in the first-look poster above with star Chris Hemsworth) and its fact-based tale of Formula One racing rivalry in 1976 he found himself feeling like he was covering some familiar road — but it wasn’t films about wheels on asphalt that hit close to home.

“People ask what has Rush been like and I say from a filmmaking standpoint it’s been kind of like a cross between Apollo 13 and Backdraft,” says Howard, who other films include The DaVinci Code, Splash and A Beautiful Mind. “In the case of Apollo 13, that’s for the complexity and the authenticity and the intent to capture an era and an endeavor that blends technology, action and danger.”

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'Rush' trailer: Chris Hemsworth, fast cars, and fireballs -- VIDEO

Racing is rounding the corner on a real pop culture moment this year. In addition to the buzzy Zac Efron-starrer At Any Price (set for April), Ron Howard’s Rush hits theaters this fall. Chris Hemsworth revs up his regal Thor accent as a take-no-prisoners Formula 1 driver, who says things like, “The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel.” Judge that statement for yourself in the trailer below.

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