Alfonso Cuarón’s space thriller “Gravity” rocketed to the top of the box office this weekend, taking in a record-breaking $55.5 million in its opening weekend.

Initially, studios estimated that “Gravity” would open with roughly $45 million, but its $55.5 million opening blew initial projections away. “Gravity” received a large boost from critics, who have universally praised the film’s direction and visual spectacle. Audiences seem to love it as well, considering that “Gravity” just broke the record for highest-grossing October debut ever. Previously, the low-budget 2011 horror flick “Paranormal Activity 3” held that honor with a $52.6 million debut.

While “Gravity” made an extremely impressive debut by any standard, much of its success can be explained by higher ticket prices. Surprisingly, roughly 80 percent of “Gravity” ticket sales came from 3D screenings. For comparison, “Avatar,” which also highly touted its 3D experience, saw only 72 percent of its sales come from 3D screenings.

Additionally, many customers saw “Gravity” at super premium-priced IMAX 3D theaters, further driving up ticket prices and increasing revenue. Despite the extra cost, however, filmgoers seem more than satisfied with the “Gravity” IMAX 3D experience. Critics at the Boston Globe and the AV Club, among many others, have recommended seeing “Gravity” in IMAX 3D. As IBTimes' own Ellen Killoran writes, "Watching it on an IMAX screen feels like the only way to experience it."

For years, audience interest in 3D has been waning, but “Gravity” proves that it is still a viable film format, provided the content is worthwhile. For the most part, audiences seem hesitant pay an extra cost for movies that were filmed in 2D and converted to 3D in post-production. When a movie as visually compelling as “Gravity” comes along, however, fans are more than willing to shell out extra for the immersive IMAX 3D experience.

“This gives new hope to exhibitors who have been getting nervous about 3D,” Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., told the Los Angeles Times. “But you’ve got to be careful about which movies you release in the format. One that lends itself to the format like this doesn’t come along often, but when it does, it becomes a cultural phenomenon.”

Check out the top 10 movies of the week below, numbers courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

  1. "Gravity" – $55.5 million
  2. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” – $21.5 million
  3. “Runner Runner” – $7.6 million
  4. “Prisoners” – $5.7 million
  5. “Rush” – $4.4 million
  6. “Don Jon” – $4.1 million
  7. “Baggage Claim” – $4.1 million
  8. “Insidious Chapter 2” – $3.9 million
  9. “Pulling Strings” – $2.5 million
  10. “Enough Said” – $2.1 million