‘Sully’ nails the landing with $35.5-million opening weekend

Tom Hanks as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ drama “Sully.”
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Warner Bros. “Sully,” the tale of hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who successfully landed an Airbus 320 in the Hudson River in 2009, reached great heights at the box office and left two Sony Pictures films, new release “When The Bough Breaks” and two-time box office champ “Don’t Breathe,” in its wake.

Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as Capt. Sullenberger, the film scored an estimated $35.5 million through Sunday, dwarfing original projections that saw the film earning $25 million in its opening weekend. 

“When we look at this weekend that is generally pretty soft for adult dramas, this is extremely noteworthy,” said Jeff Goldstein, head of distribution for Warner Bros. “The film is such a patriotic story of heroism. It’s just a feel-good story.”

The film appeared to benefit from its star power, with data firm comScore reporting that 39% of surveyed audience members attended the film because of Hanks and 20% because of Eastwood.


Those same audiences seem to have left the theater happy, with polling firm reporting moviegoers giving the film an A and 83% of Rotten Tomatoes critics reviewing the film positively.

But the best days at the box office may be yet to come for “Sully,” thanks to its appeal to older audiences.

“With adult dramas, it’s not about opening day,” said Goldstein. “It’s not about opening weekend. Adults don’t rush out on release day, but they’re going to come see it.”

That’s good news for a film where 80% of the audience was over the age of 35, according to Warner Bros. 


Opening in second place with $15 million is Screen Gems’ “When The Bough Breaks,” a thriller centered around an infertile couple and their psychotic surrogate battling for control of their family.

Starring Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall and Jaz Sinclair, the film underperformed — original estimates predicted a $20-million opening..

Still, the studio is impressed with the film’s performance.

“For ‘When The Bough Breaks’ to gross $15 million on a picture that cost $10 million to make, it’s a really nice success for us,” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s distribution chief. 

Screen Gems’ “Don’t Breathe” was finally dislodged from the top spot at the box office, where it spent its first two weeks of release. The horror-thriller landed in third place with an estimated $8.2 million, bringing its domestic numbers to $66.8 million, an impressive haul for a film with a $9.9-million production budget.

“From the beginning we knew we had a film that people were going to like a lot,” said Bruer. “I will say, when you consider the normal multiplier on a horror thriller, this goes way beyond the norms.”

Warner Bros.’ “Suicide Squad” landed in fourth place this weekend, bringing in an estimated $5.6 million in its sixth week of release. The North American total for the superhero saga is $307.4 million.

After a summer full of the adventures of talking animals with “Finding Dory,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” to say nothing of “The Jungle Book,” Lionsgate’s animated “The Wild Life,” depicting the story of Robinson Crusoe with talking animals, scored a disappointing $3.4 million in its opening weekend to round out the top 5 at the box office.


“Kubo and the Two Strings,” from Focus Features and Laika Animation Studios, earned an estimated $3.2 million and sixth place.

Disney’s family-friendly fare “Pete’s Dragon” landed in seventh place this weekend, bringing in an estimated $2.9 million, a number that takes the film to over $100 million earned worldwide.

STX Entertainment’s “Bad Moms” fell to eighth at the box office but still earned an estimated $2.8 million and raising the film’s domestic earnings to over $107 million.

Lionsgate’s modern western “Hell or High Water,” starring Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges, brought in an estimated $2.6 million for ninth place.

Sony’s “Sausage Party” rounded out the top 10, bringing in an estimated $2.3 million and raising its domestic take to $93.2 million.

Another notable release from the weekend includes Relativity’s horror film “The Disappointments Room,” starring Kate Beckinsale, which brought in an estimated $1.4 million.

Next week, “Sully” will be navigating in some crowded box office airspace with Universal’s “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” Lionsgate’s “Blair Witch” and Open Road’s “Snowden” all joining the fray.



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