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Disney scored big bucks at this weekend's domestic box office thanks to the 20th Century Fox release of James Gray's Ad Astra. The space-set adventure movie starring Brad Pitt claimed $19.2 million for all mankind, securing the second North American slot and falling right under the long-awaited Downton Abbey movie. In foreign markets, however, Ad Astra planted its flag on the cratered surface of $26 million, bumping up the film's current global total to just over $33 million.
This is, far and away, Gray's best weekend debut ever. In fact, the combined openings of his last six movies (produced between 1995 and 2017) fall $8 million short of his first genre effort. One could probably chalk up this meteoric (pun intended) success to rave reviews out of the Venice Film Festival last month as well as big-budgeted marketing power from the Mouse House.
Directed and co-written by Gray (The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z), Ad Astra—whose title is Latin for "to the stars"—follows astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt) as he sets out on an odyssey across the solar system to find his long-lost father, Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones). The government believes that Roy's dad has gone insane and plans to wipe out all life on Earth with antimatter surges caused by a special space station meant to find sentient life in the cosmos. As Pitt's protagonist travels farther and farther from home, he begins to question his own grip on reality, mirroring the journey into the darkness of the human soul experienced by Captain Willard in Coppola's Apocalypse Now.
The epic sci-fi feature co-stars other heavy-hitting actors like Donald Sutherland, Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga, and John Ortiz.
Now in its third week, It Chapter Two scared up an additional $17.2 million for Warner Bros. and New Line, nabbing fourth place and bringing its North American tally to $179 million. Globally, the Stephen King-inspired sequel has made almost $359 million. The horror flick also boasts an impressive ensemble of James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, and Bill Skarsgård.
Things will heat up in two weeks when Todd Phillips' Joker hits theaters on Friday, Oct. 4. The comic book movie from Warner Bros., which features Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, is expected to take in anywhere between $82 - $90 million.