×

Tom Hanks’ “Inferno” has opened with a moderate $800,000 at 2,874 North American locations in Thursday night preview screenings.

The number is significantly lower than the Thursday night preview gross for two recent action-thrillers — “The Accountant” with $1.4 million and “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” at $1.3 million.

Sony is eyeing a debut weekend of $20 million to $25 million when it opens on 3,576 locations. Rival studios have avoided launching on the pre-Halloween frame.

“Inferno” is the third adaptation of Dan Brown’s series of books about symbologist Robert Langdon. Hanks and director Ron Howard previously partnered on “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons,” which drew fans of shadowy conspiracy yarns to the tune of $1.2 billion globally.

“Inferno” is pegged to open with only a third of the 2006 launch of “The Da Vinci Code” with $77.1 million and about half of the $46.2 million debut of “Angels & Demons’” in 2009. Both those films opened in the midst of summer blockbuster season.  “Inferno” cost $75 million to produce, half of what the studio spent making “Angels & Demons.”

Reviewers have been unimpressed with “Inferno,” which carries a 21% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes — not surprising since the previous Langdon films and books also lacked critical support and still managed to be commercially successful. Moviegoing may be held down by the World Series, with three games scheduled this weekend for the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.

 “Inferno” has already passed the $100 million milestone in 64 international markets for Sony in its first ten days. Howard and Brian Grazer are producing. David Koepp wrote the script, as he did for “Angels & Demons.”

The two previous installments — both set in Europe — grossed more than 70% of their worldwide take from international markets, where “The Da Vinci Code” took in $540 million and “Angels & Demons” totaled $352 million.

The movie opens with a mysterious death, followed by Hanks’ Robert Langdon character being awakened in an Italian hospital with amnesia, thanks to a bullet to the head. It turns out that a madman is trying to wipe half the world’s population, and kill Langdon.

Langdon teams up with a doctor — played by Felicity Jones — in hopes that she will help him recover his memories and stop the madman’s plot. Omar Sy, Ben Foster, Sidse Babett Knudsen and Irrfan Khan also star.

“Boo! A Madea Halloween” and “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” captured first and second place on the box office charts last weekend, but both should drop more than 50% in their sophomore round in theaters. “Madea” should generate roughly $12 million, while the new “Reacher” adventure is looking at $10 million or so.

Lionsgate’s “Madea” easily won last weekend with $28.5 million, followed by Paramount’s “Jack Reacher” sequel with $22.9 million.