NEW YORK — 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. 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.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "Gravity," $30 million.
2. "Captain Phillips," $17.3 million, ($9.1 million international).
3. "Carrie," $17 million.
4. "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," $10.1 million.
5. "Escape Plan," $9.8 million.
6. "Prisoners," $2.1 million.
7. "Enough Said," $1.8 million.
8. "Fifth Estate," $1.7 million.
9. "Runner Runner," $1.6 million.
10. "Insidious Chapter 2," $1.5 million.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle. Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.