'Sully' Flies High to $35.5 Million U.S. Opening
By Dave McNary
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Tom Hanks' "Sully" has taken off with a stellar $35.5 million at 3,525 North American locations, marking a solid start to the fall box office season.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, "Sully" handily outperformed recent expectations, which had been in the $25 million range. The action-adventure, which recreates 2009's "Miracle on the Hudson" emergency landing, generated an A CinemaScore in a strong signal that "Sully" should continue to draw well in coming weeks.
Sony-Screen Gems drama "When the Bough Breaks" opened respectably in second with $15 million at 2,246 sites. Lionsgate's launch of European animated comedy "The Wild Life" generated only modest interest in fifth place with $3.4 million at 2,493 locations while Relativity's horror film "The Disappointments Room" was nearly invisible with $1.4 million at 1,554 screens for a dismal $901 per-screen average.
"Sully" stars Hanks as Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the career pilot who successfully landed a damaged U.S. Airways jet in the Hudson River after it hit a flock of geese following takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. Eastwood directed from a script by Todd Komarnicki, based on the autobiography "Highest Duty" by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow.
"Sully" generated the top gross for a post-Labor Day weekend and the fifth-best September opening ever after "Hotel Transylvania 2," "Hotel Transylvania," "Insidious: Chapter 2" and "Sweet Home Alabama." The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on Sept. 2 and has received largely laudatory reviews with a current 84 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Audiences were 80 percent over 35 and 56 percent female. Warner distribution exec Jeffrey Goldstein said strong support among older moviegoers means "Sully" will hold well in the coming weeks.
"Older audiences tend to support movies like this more over the long haul," he added.
Goldstein noted that two recent Hanks movies have generated strong holds -- 2012 hostage drama "Captain Phillips," which opened with $25.7 million on its way to a domestic total of $107 million; and Hanks' most recent film, "Bridge of Spies," which debuted in mid-October with a $15.4 million opening weekend at 2,811 sites and also had a strong hold as it wound up with a $72 million domestic total. Continued...