The overall success of "Gravity" and its appeal means it may stay in a higher orbit longer. It will be tough to beat in its second weekend, despite the popularity of Tom Hanks. The subject matter alone for "Captain Phillips" is a tougher sell. This is not "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "The Three Musketeers."
It is a fact-based story of the 2009 hijacking of a U.S. ship by Somali pirates. But the history is already being question, which is always the case when films get that Oscar buzz cooking. Even "Gravity" is being questioned, as did "The Butler."
That is all part of the game. Sometimes those accuracy questions can affect a film going forward, like it did with "Zero Dark Thirty." But, it didn't hurt "Argo" as it made it to the top last year. The "Argo" model of appeal is what a studio is may be looking at now. And not necessarily for box office glory but rather, award satisfaction.
The end result is that this award season is off to a great start with "Gravity" and "Captain Phillips" surely on board. "August: Osage County" has already notched a Hollywood Film Award and "12 Years a Slave" and others await.
1. "Captain Phillips" - 3,020 theaters
2. "Machete Kills" - 2,538 theaters
3. "Romeo and Juliet (2013)" - 461 theaters
4. "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete" - 147 theaters
5. "Escape from Tomorrow" - 30 theaters
Meanwhile, both "Gravity" and "Captain Phillips" are geared toward an older audience which is also an award season hook. Because of this the films may still be around as Oscar time really heats up.
For other choices, "Machete Kills" could entice with its cast which includes Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Amber Heard, Danny Trejo, Charlie Sheen, Antonio Banderas, Jessica Alba and Mel Gibson, to name a few. Many salary adjustments surely had to be made on this one to get it produced. But, Robert Rodriguez, as a producer and director, can pull it off.
For an independent pleasure, one may seek out "Escape From Tomorrow" from director Randy Moore. It attempts to dissect the world of Disney fun. If that succeeds depends on the individual. But, the film is about what is perceived as fun may not actually be.
That brings to mind the phrase "fun for the whole family." That is simply not impossible. That phrase is wonderfully explained by comedian Jerry Seinfeld, but that is for another story.