Warner Bros. is opening “Sully” seven and a half years after Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger successfully landed a damaged US Airways jet in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from La Guardia 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 Friday and has received largely laudatory reviews with a current 77% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Warner Bros. will hold Thursday night preview showings at about 2,700 sites.
Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Holt McCallany, Jamey Sheridan, and Jerry Ferrara are in supporting roles. This marks the first time that Hanks and Eastwood have collaborated.
Box office trackers are expecting “Sully” to launch in the same range as two titles — 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 major release was last fall’s “Bridge of Spies,” which opened with $15 million for Disney. Steven Spielberg’s espionage drama showed solid staying power with a $72 million 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.
Three other titles are opening this weekend — Sony/Screen Gems’ “When the Bough Breaks” at about 2,200 sites; Lionsgate’s animated family comedy “The Wild Life” at 2,400 locations; and Relativity Media’s horror film “The Disappointments Room” at about 1,500 screens.
“When the Bough Breaks” will probably lead the trio, based on forecasts by Sony in the $10 million to $12 million range, while rivals predict the thriller will do as much as $20 million. That’s a decent start, given its modest $10 million production budget.
Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall portray a couple who desperately wants a baby and decides to 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 Wild Life” is a Belgian-French adventure-comedy based on “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe told from the point of view of the island’s animals, including an exuberant parrot, a goat, a tapir, a kingfisher, and a chameleon. Forecasts have pegged “The Wild Life” with a launch in the $5 million range.
“The Disappointments Room,” starring Kate Beckinsale and Lucas Till as a couple who moves into a rural dream house, was shot in 2014 by D.J. Caruso prior to Relativity’s bankruptcy and reorganization. The story centers on a secret room hidden within the attic. It’s the first Relativity title to hit the market since the mini-studio emerged from bankruptcy in April.
Relativity decided recently to move the film up by two months. “The Disappointments Room” has a $15 million budget and will probably finish in the $2 million to $4 million range. Sony’s third weekend of “Don’t Breathe,” which has led in the last two frames, may wind up in second or third place after taking in a surprisingly strong $55 million in its first 11 days.
The summer box office finished Monday on an upbeat note with $4.48 billion — comfortable to last summer after being down by 4.8% at the end of July. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, said the upcoming weekend could represent a strong start to the post-summer period.
“The first weekend of fall will be marked by the counter programmed debuts of the serious minded ‘Sully’ and the guilty pleasure fun of ‘When the Bough Breaks’ to follow up on a surprisingly strong summer season,” he said. “The fall season looks to provide a very interesting mix of indie films, star powered vehicles, and of course the Oscar bait that the season is known for producing.”