Tom Hanks’ “Sully” is dominating the box office as the thriller-biopic heads for a $32 million weekend at 3,525 locations, early estimates showed Friday.
That’s well above recent forecasts, which had placed the Warner Bros. film in the $25 million range. Warner Bros. maintained that estimate for “Sully” on Friday — even though it was heading for a $12 million opening day, including $1.4 million from Thursday night previews.
Sony-Screen Gems drama “When the Bough Breaks” also appears to be outperforming the studio’s estimates, which had been in the $10 to $12 million range. Early estimates from rivals indicated that the Morris Chestnut-Regina Hall starrer would come in with a $6 million Friday and between $18 and $20 million at 2,246 sites for the weekend.
Lionsgate’s launch of animated comedy “The Wild Life” was generating only modest interest with an opening day in the $900,000 range at 2,493 locations for a weekend of around $3.5 million. Relativity’s horror film “The Disappointments Room” was even less attractive with about $650,000 on Friday for a weekend of $2 million at best.
“Sully” is opening seven years after Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger successfully landed a damaged U.S. Airways jet in the Hudson River after it hit a flock of geese shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. Clint Eastwood directed from a script by Todd Komarnicki, based on the autobiography “Highest Duty” by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow.
“Sully” premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on Sept. 2 and has received largely laudatory reviews with a current 81% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Holt McCallany, Jamey Sheridan, and Jerry Ferrara are in supporting roles.
“Sully” appears to be on track to outperform the opening of Hanks’ 2012 hostage drama “Captain Phillips,” which opened with $25.7 million on its way to a domestic total of $107 million; and Denzel Washington’s 2013 airline drama “Flight,” which launched with $24.9 million and grossed $93 million domestically.
Hanks’ most recent film, “Bridge of Spies,” debuted in mid-October with a $15.4 million opening weekend at 2,811 sites and wound up with a $72 million domestic total.
“Sully” has a production budget of about $60 million, so it will need to show holdover strength in the following weekends to make it into profitable territory. Village Roadshow Pictures is a co-producer and co-financer with Warner Bros.
“When the Bough Breaks,” which has modest $10 million production budget, stars Chestnut and Hall as a couple who desperately wants a baby. They hire a surrogate, played by Jaz Sinclair, who develops a psychotic fixation on the husband as the pregnancy progresses.
“When the Bough Breaks” is directed by Jon Cassar from a script by Jack Olsen. Former New Line toppers Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne are producing through their Unique Features production company.
“The Disappointments Room,” starring Kate Beckinsale and Lucas Till, debuts at 1,554 sites amid forecasts of a dismal $2 million launch. It’s the first Relativity title to hit the market since the mini-studio emerged from bankruptcy in April.
Sony’s third weekend of “Don’t Breathe,” which has led in the last two frames, will probably wind up in third place after taking in a surprisingly strong $58 million in its first 13 days.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, noted that “Sully” offering up the first Oscar contender of the season with the pairing of Hanks and Eastwood poised for a solid takeoff this weekend. He said “When The Bough Breaks” is likely to continue in the guilty-pleasure tradition of last year’s “The Perfect Guy,” 2014’s “No Good Deed” and “Addicted” and 2013’s “Temptation” as another profit-maker for Sony.
Sony has seen better than expected grosses for “Don’t Breathe” and “Sausage Party.”
Year-to-date domestic grosses hit $8.13 billion as of Wednesday, up 5% over 2015 at the same point, following a summer season that matched last year’s summer at $4.48 billion, according to comScore.