‘Gravity’ eclipses ‘Phillips’ at box office

LOS ANGELES — “Gravity” won’t be held down.

The Warner Bros. astronaut adventure directed by Alfonso Cuaron and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney landed in the top spot at the box office for the second weekend in a row, according to studio estimates Sunday. “Gravity” earned $44.3 million, raising its domestic total to $123.4 million.

“They say what goes up must come down, but that’s not really true with ‘Gravity,’” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. “To have opened as big as it did last week and only drop 21 percent, that’s really an amazing hold. It’s a direct testament to the word of mouth on the movie.”

Sony’s “Captain Phillips” launched in second place with $26 million. The high seas drama directed by Paul Greengrass stars Tom Hanks as a cargo ship captain who is held captive by Somali pirates.

“We think the success of ‘Gravity’ will also bode well for ‘Captain Phillips,’” said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony Pictures. “This is the extraordinary kind of film that we think audiences will flock to over the next several months moving forward.”

The animated Sony movie “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” gobbled up third place in its third weekend with $14.2 million, bringing its domestic haul to $78 million.

The weekend’s only other new release, “Machete Kills,” opened in fourth place with $3.8 million. The gun-toting sequel from director Robert Rodriguez and starring Danny Trejo and Michelle Rodriguez is the follow-up to “Machete,” which earned $11.4 million when it opened in 2010.

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Gravity,” $44.3 million.

2. “Captain Phillips,” $26 million.

3. “Cloudy with a Chance Of Meatballs 2,” $14.2 million.

4. “Machete Kills,” $3.8 million.

5. “Runner Runner,” $3.7 million.

6. “Prisoners,” $3.7 million.

7. “Insidious: Chapter 2,” $2.6 million.

8. “Rush,” $2.4 million.

9. “Don Jon,” $2.3 million.

10. “Baggage Claim,” $2 million.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang .

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Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

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