WINNER OF THE WEEK: Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks mastermind had railed against The Fifth Estate, the spy thriller built around him and his underground journalistic endeavors, arguing that the movie was designed to make him look ridiculous. He needn't have worried, however, since no one went to see it. Given the film's poor reviews and weak word-of-mouth, it debuted in eighth place with an estimated $1.7 million.
Besides, the adult dramas already in theaters were still strong draws. Gravity held the top spot for the third straight week, bringing home an estimated $31.0 million. That's down a slim 28 percent from a week ago. In three weekends, it's earned a total of $170.6 million.
Right behind was Captain Phillips. In its second week, Tom Hanks' real-life pirate drama finished second, earning an estimated $17.3 million, for a two-week total of $53.3 million. Like Gravity, it saw just a modest decline this week, of 33 percent.
LOSERS OF THE WEEK: Chillers and thrillers. The Carrie remake debuted in third place with an estimated $17.0 million, just a hair behind Captain Phillips, but since predictions had been in the low 20s, it has to be considered a disappointment.
Still, it did better than Escape Plan. The action summit between '80s bruisers Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger debuted at Number Five with an estimated $9.8 million. That's still better than the openings of the actors' films from earlier in the year, Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand and Stallone's Bullet to the Head, but still nothing to write home about. And then there was The Fifth Estate. Clearly, we're at a time of year (that is, awards season) when viewers demand more substance behind their chills and thrills.
By the way, rounding out the top 5, in fourth place, was Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, which earned another estimated $10.1 million, pretty good for a movie in its fourth week of release. It's had the cartoon/family market to itself for most of October; why everyone but Sony is leaving this money on the table is a mystery.
'SLAVE' WAGES: The biggest independent debut this week was the Christian-audience oriented I'm in Love With a Church Girl, starring rapper Ja Rule (remember him?) as a kingpin reformed by the love of a good woman. It earned an estimated $1.0 million this weekend on 457 screens, averaging $2,243 per screen. By contrast, the Oscar-hopeful 12 Years a Slave opened on just 19 screens but earned an estimated $960,000, for a humungous $50,526 per-screen average, the highest of any movie playing this week. The next highest per-screen average, $16,233, belonged to All Is Lost, the Robert Redford lost-at-sea drama that's also an Oscar hopeful, which debuted on just 6 screens with an estimated total of $97,400. And Kill Your Darlings, a Beat biopic starring Daniel Radcliffe as the young Allen Ginsberg, premiered on 4 screens with an estimated $57,700, for a strong $14,425 average. (By contrast, Gravity averaged $8,123 per screen.) Those high per-screen averages bode well for those dramas, once they open nationwide over the next few weeks. Church Girl, maybe not so much.