LOS ANGELES, Oct 20 (Reuters) - The 3-D outer spacethriller, "Gravity," continued to rocket past its box officecompetition over the weekend, eclipsing newcomer "Carrie," tomaintain its tight grip on the U.S. and Canadian box offices.
"Gravity," starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney asastronauts stranded in space, grabbed $31 million in ticketsales at North American theaters to hold the top spot for thethird consecutive weekend. It had overall ticket sales of morethan $170.6 million.
"Captain Phillips," a Tom Hanks movie based on a real-lifepirate attack, was second with $17.3 million in ticket sales.
"Gravity" beat the $17 million made by "Carrie," which camein third. The remake of the 1976 horror film starring SissySpacek stars 16-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz as the shy girl whowreaks havoc on her tormentors by using her telekinetic powersto destroy her high school prom.
"Gravity" has become a word-of-mouth darling in its thirdweek in movie theaters. Made for a relatively modest $100million for a special effects film, "Gravity" has been boostedby IMAX's ultra-large screens, which has accounted for $38million in ticket sales.
Jeffrey Goldstein, Warner Brothers' executive vice presidentfor domestic distribution, attributed the film's success to"phenomenal word of mouth," and to its appeal in 3-D, notingthat 82 percent of audiences opted for 3-D showings. WarnerBrothers distributed "Gravity."
"Carrie" is based on based on thriller writer Stephen King's1974 novel. That novel was first adapted by Brian De Palma andreceived Academy Award nominations for Spacek and Piper Laurie,who plays her abusive mother.
The film's box office failed to match Hollywood's forecastsof a $22 million opening weekend, according to website BoxOffice Mojo.
Still, Sony Pictures' worldwide president of distribution,Rory Bruer, said that the film's opening was "within the realmof expectations."
Horror films have had a good year, with Warner Brother's"The Conjuring" generating $137.3 million in domestic ticketsales and "Mama," "The Purge" and "Insidious Chapter 2" withstrong sales.
Other new releases didn't fare as well. "The Escape Plan,"starring aging action film stars Sylvester Stallone and ArnoldSchwarzenegger in a prison escape flick, opened with $9.8million in ticket sales for fifth place.
"The Fifth Estate," a thriller based on the news-leakingwebsite WikiLeaks, was eighth with $1.7 million in ticket sales.The film, co-produced by superstar director Steven Spielberg'sDreamworks studio, received mixed reviews from critics and athumbs-down from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who told theNew York Times the film is "a reactionary snoozefest that onlythe U.S. government could love."
The animated movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" tookthe no. 4 spot this week, with ticket sales of $10.1 million,pushing the Sony-produced film past $93 million in its fourthweekend in movie theaters.
"Gravity" was released by Warner Bros., a unit of TimeWarner Inc. Sony Corp's movie studioreleased "Captain Phillips," "Carrie" and "Cloudy 2." "The FifthEstate" was released by Walt Disney's Touchstone label."Escape Plan. Was released by "Lionsgate."
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