Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity showed that you can combine critical plaudits with commercial success at the US box office this weekend, taking an estimated $55.6m (£34.6m) between Friday and Sunday to set the record for an October opening.
The sci-fi epic, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, smashed even the most optimistic predictions from box office analysts, most of whom had envisioned a three-day gross just north of $40m.
The film was doubtless aided by its status as a 3D 'event'. More expensive 3D tickets accounted for 80 per cent of its weekend gross, while IMAX generated more than $11m
However, despite beating Paranormal Activity 3 for the biggest October opening, Scary Movie 3 still holds the record when grosses are adjusted for ticket price inflation. Its $48m three-day take from 2003 now adjusts to more than $65m, according to Boxoffice.com.
Internationally, there was more good news for Gravity. It drummed up $27.4m in 27 non-US markets, with strong debuts in Russia, Germany and Australia. In Italy, 95 per cent of its $2.6m gross came from 3D screenings.
Back in the US, animated sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 dropped to second place with $21.5m, while the Ben Affleck-starring Runner Runner disappointed with $7.6m.