UK Box Office

Sandra Bullock in Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity

Competitors stampeded away from the release date in panic, giving director Alfonso Cuarón‘s Gravity a clear run at the UK audience. The result: an impressive £6.24m, including Thursday takings of £619,000. This is the biggest opening for lead actors Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Bullock’s biggest debuts were this summer’s The Heat (£2.5m, including £910,000 in previews), the punctuation-challenged Two Weeks Notice (£2.64m), and Speed (£2.31m). Clooney’s previous best openings were Ocean’s Eleven (£5.1m), and Batman and Robin (£4.94m). Cuarón’s previous best is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which achieved a mighty debut of £23.88m thanks to an aggressive preview strategy.

Comparisons with films that occupy a similar market positioning are tricky, because the present-day space drama doesn’t fit easily within the sci-fi genre; nor does it depict historical events, in the vein of Apollo 13 (a film that debuted in 1995 with a then-impressive £2.36m). Director-driven films depicting space travel include Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (taking in £1.02m upon opening, including previews) and Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris (£314,000).

Warner Bros reports that 89% of Gravity tickets were sold in 3D (includes IMAX 3D), a record proportion for any blockbuster released this year.

The runner-up

Given the mighty competition of Gravity, it’s no surprise to see Thor: The Dark World take a significant tumble (down 47% from the previous weekend). But Disney and Marvel will be focusing more on the cumulative total, which stands at £13.97m after 12 days – and close to the original Thor’s lifetime of £14.04m. Thor, which only fell 38% on its second week of play, stood at £9.52m at the same stage of its run. With nothing arriving this weekend in direct competition to The Dark World, it’s reasonable to project a decent hold and a £20m total.

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