The results this weekend for
Back on that first hand, it was, given how hard it is for stars to open movies, a solid number for a one of the few actors still expected to open movies with ease; on the other, it somehow also seemed less-than-overwhelming for one of the few actors still expected to open movies with ease.
How does "Captain Phillips' " opening stack up — not just compared with unrelated movies this weekend but to Hanks' other movies over the years?
PHOTOS: Tom Hanks | Career in pictures
To explore this question (we’re geeky like that) we decided to return to all of Hanks' live-action starring vehicles over the last 15 years to see which wide releases had an opening-weekend edge over “Phillips.” Fifteen years is a good period to evaluate -- 1998’s
"Saving Private Ryan" (1998) -- Hanks had the Spielberg brand and a host of costars to help him, not to mention a general nostalgia for the Greatest Generation. Even so, a $44-million opening for an epic-length war picture is pretty great. "Captain Phillips'" $26 million can't match that. Advantage: "Saving Private Ryan"
"You've Got Mail" (1998) -- It's about as different a genre as you can get from "Captain Phillips." Yet the total -- $26 million in today's dollars -- is as close as it gets. Still, given the fact that “Mail” was a holiday comedy and reunited him with Meg Ryan, his magic box-office partner, it probably should have had a more successful opening. Advantage: "Captain Phillips"
PHOTOS: Captain Phillips on screen and in real life
"Cast Away" (2000) -- An opening of $38 million en route to a whopping total take ($233 million) puts that movie -- the other nautical-themed stranded tale -- squarely ahead of "Phillips." Advantage: "Cast Away"
"The Terminal" (2004) -- A character-driven story outside of a specific genre, it managed a solid $23.5 million and rode on long legs to a $95 million total in the U.S. (and twice that overseas). Sure, it was in a slightly tougher genre than the survival-action tale of "Phillips, but its opening is still lower than "Phillips." "Terminal" also was beaten in its opening weekend (by "Dodgeball"), so no edge there. (Slight) advantage: "Captain Phillips"
NYFF 2013: Watch the trailers
"Angels & Demons" (2009) -- It took in $50 million but for a sequel of a beloved character -- and another bestseller to boot -- it probably should have done better. Advantage: "Captain Phillips"
So where does that all leave us? Of these 10 films, five had stronger openings than "Captain Phillips" and five were weaker. But it would be too simple to say that “Phillips” lands in the middle of a pack -- it represents a certain type of qualified resurgence. Its opening was weaker than four out of Hanks' five movies between 1998 and 2002. But it was stronger than his last three openings, going back six years. Don’t call it a comeback. Call it a sort-of comeback.