Warner Bros’ space epic from Alfonso Cuaron starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney reached for the stars at the weekend with an estimated $55.5m launch that set a new October mark.

The film excelled on IMAX where it also broke October records for the large screen format on $11.2m from 323 screens for a $35,000 average.

The worldwide total including $3.2m from 89 international runs came to $14.4m.

Gravity boosted an otherwise slight weekend that saw box office climb 20% on last week but drop 13% against the same session in 2012.

Fox’s Justin Timberlake-Ben Affleck thriller Runner Runner limped in at number three on $7.6m, while last weekend’s champion Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 from Sony slid to number two on $21.5m for $60.6m.

Rush dropped two places through Universal on a lacklustre $4.4m from 2,208 that raised the running total to $18.1m.

Pantelion, Lionsgate’s joint venture with Mexican giant Grupo Televisa, released Pitipol Ybarra’s Spanish-English-language rom-com Pulling Strings at number nine on $2.5m from 387. The $6,460 per-site average was the second best of the top 10 behind Gravity. Pantelion’s hit Instructions Not Included ranks 11th on $41.3m after six weekends.

Except for the debut of the Jeremy Lin basketball documentary Linsanity, the limited arena produced a string of mediocre debuts. Arc Entertainment distributed Ketchup Entertainment’s Linsanity on $103,000 from nine theatres.

Roadside Attractions released music drama Grace Unplugged at number 15 on $1m from 511 and Exclusive Releasing opened the JFK ensemble drama Parkland on $335,000 from 357.

Reliance Big opened the car thief rom-com Besharam starring Ranbir Kapoor on $389,000 from 217, rising to $504,000 over the first four days.

The Film Arcade opened the Sundance comedy A.C.O.D. on $20,000 from three sites and RADiUS-TWC debuted another Sundance title, Concussion, on $8,200 from two.

Next weekend’s wide releases are Sony’s awards season contender Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks and Machete Kills through Open Road.

Estimated Top 10 North America Oct 4-6 2013
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Gravity (Warner Bros) WBPI $55.5m –

2 (1) Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (Sony) SPRI $21.5m $60.6m

3 (-) Runner Runner (Fox) Fox Int’l $7.6m –

4 (2) Prisoners (Warner Bros-Alcon) Lionsgate International $5.7m $47.9m

5 (3) Rush (Universal) Exclusive Media $4.4m $18.1m

6 (5) Don Jon (Relativity Media) Voltage Pictures $4.2m $16.1m

7 (4) Baggage Claim (Fox Searchlight) Fox International $4.1m $15.2m

8 (6) Insidious: Chapter 2 (FilmDistrict) Blumhouse International/SPRI $3.9m $74.8m

9 (-) Pulling Strings (Pantelion) Highland Film Group $2.5m –

10 (11) Enough Said (Fox Searchlight) $2.2m $5.4m