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Associated Press
This film image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows a scene from "Gravity."

In its first weekend of release, “Gravity” grossed $55.6 million at the domestic box office. That figure represents the largest total for a movie opening in October, and is fueled by the largest percentage of 3D sales for an original-release film.

“The Sandra Bullock outer-space saga collected $55.6 million. … The haul easily eclipsed analysts' projections of $35 million,” USA Today’s Scott Bowles wrote. “Its near-unanimous positive reviews make it an early frontrunner in the awards race, analysts say.

“Propelling sales: IMAX theaters, which accounted for $11.2 million, the biggest October opening for any film in the colossal format.”

Ray Subers reported for movie website Box Office Mojo, “Across all of the marketing, Warner Bros. managed to convey that ‘Gravity’ was an experience that needed to be seen in a theater — preferably in 3D or IMAX. This helped get people out to theaters, and also got them to cough up an extra few bucks for 3D: According to Warner Bros., 80 percent of (its) opening weekend haul came from the premium-priced showtimes.

“That 3D share is higher than any recent original movie, and is also ahead of ‘Avatar’ (71 percent), which is essentially the godfather of 3D.”

Christian movie critic Paul Asay published an essay Monday via the Washington Post’s On Faith blog about the spiritual messages roiling throughout “Gravity.”

“In the midst of this straightforward story of two people trying to survive in the not-so-friendly confines of space,” Asay wrote, “there’s a resonant, deeply spiritual message at play. … Obviously, the movie’s musings on life and death can be taken a myriad ways. But for Christians like me, there’s a special resonance to be found. We can find life after death, the movie suggests. We can be born again, even in the coldest and darkest of places.”

Bullock plays Ryan Stone, with George Clooney starring as fellow astronaut Matt Kowalski. In reviewing “Gravity” for the Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern detailed the film’s groundbreaking cinematography: “We feel awe from the start. The film opens with a 12-minute sequence of seamless action in which Matt, Ryan, the giant telescope and the shuttle that brought them there float serenely above a vast, floating Earth until all hell suddenly breaks loose in the form of space debris. Newtonian laws of motion still apply in the maelstrom that ensues; the lawbreaker is the camera. It moves as no movie camera has done before—so fluidly that its loops and glides transgress boundaries and film conventions. At one point it closes in on Ryan, then penetrates her helmet, without pausing at the visor, to study the stark terror on her face.”

Email: jaskar@desnews.com