Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity was seven years in the making for the Mexican director. The space epic has garnered mostly positive reviews, with an amazing 98% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. That critical acclaim has been matched at the box office thanks to a record-breaking opening weekend.
BoxOfficeMojo reports that Gravity grossed $55.5 million domestically this weekend, which makes it the second-highest opening weekend for Cuarón, behind Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with $93.6 million in 2004. Gravity performed better than Children of Men, which opened with $501,003 in a limited release.
Gravity is the largest October opening of all time, and in the top 10 openings for live-action movies based on an original idea or story. Gravity is also now Sandra Bullock’s highest-grossing movie, passing the action comedy The Heat, which opened to $39.1 million this past June, and George Clooney’s highest-grossing movie, passing Batman and Robin, which opened $42.8 million in 1997.
Before its release, Gravity was tracking to gross upwards of $40 million for its opening weekend, while Warner Bros. predicted a $30 million opening. The studio’s modest prediction was based on past performances of other award-contending, adult-centric dramas that opened in October, such as The Social Network and The Departed, which opened with $22.4 million and $26.9 million, respectively.
The IMAX and 3D surcharge added nicely to a general admission price, while positive word-of-mouth and reviews gave audiences plenty of reasons to watch the movie. Even astronaut Buzz Aldrin praised the movie and its realistic recreations of movement in zero gravity. World-renowned astrophysicist [and spoilsport – Ed.] Neil deGrasse Tyson, however, poked holes in Gravity’s science, however.
Now that Gravity is a success, it can only help its chances with Academy Award nominations this January. Gravity is receiving early Oscar buzz for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, actor Sandra Bullock, and director Alfonso Cuarón. It also appears that Gravity might actually get a Best Picture nomination.
Warner Bros. recently announced that Gravity‘s companion short film Aningnaaq will be added to the film’s home video release. Gravity’s co-writer Jonás Cuarón, Alfonso’s son, wrote and directed Aningnaaq, which screened during this year’s Venice Film Festival, where Gravity made its world premiere. The seven-minute short follows an Inuit ice-fisherman in Greenland who picks up a mysterious signal from space.
Gravity is a technical and cinematic marvel. The new film-making techniques Alfonso Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki developed for the space epic will deepen cinema and the movie-going experience going forward. It’s rare when an ostensible art film becomes a commercial success, but Gravity not only defies box office expectations, it also challenges the perception of what kind of movies will be made in the future.
You can read Brent’s Gravity review here.