Box office hits and misses: ‘Sully’ makes a splash with $35.5 million premiere

Rick Marshall
Box office hits and misses: ‘Sully’ makes a splash with $35.5 million premiere
Clint Eastwood earned his biggest debut as a director so far for his biopic of US Airways pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, which debuted to $35.5 million over the weekend and stars Tom Hanks.

The story of US Airways pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s famous emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River turned out to be rich source material for Sully director Clint Eastwood and star Tom Hanks. Moviegoers apparently agreed as the biopic raked in an impressive $35.5 million on its opening weekend.

While the drama still has a few weekends to go before it covers its $60 million price tag, Sully now ranks as the biggest opening so far for a film directed by Eastwood, which makes some sense, given that it’s also the actor-turned-filmmaker’s widest release to date (debuting in 3,525 theaters).

Related: Tom Hanks takes on the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ in trailer for Eastwood’s ‘Sully’

After a few weekends in recent months when new films played second fiddle to movies already in release, not one but three films opened among the weekend’s top 10 movies, with the romantic thriller When the Bough Breaks finishing second behind Sully with a $15 million opening. The animated feature The Wild Life also had a top 10 showing with an underwhelming (for an animated feature, at least) $3.4 million premiere.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. Sully $35.5M $35.5M $46M
2. When the Bough Breaks $15M $15M $15M
3. Don’t Breathe $8.2M $66.8 $87.1M
4. Suicide Squad $5.6M $307.4M $700M
5. The Wild Life $3.4M $3.4M $24.2M
6. Kubo and the Two Strings $3.2M $40.8M $49.2M
7. Pete’s Dragon $2.9M $70M $102.9M
8. Bad Moms $2.8M $107.5M $151.9M
9. Hell or High Water $2.6M $19.8M $19.8M
10. Sausage Party $2.3M $93.1M $113.5M

The $15 million earned by When the Bough Breaks is particularly notable given that the film was universally panned by critics — those who even bothered to review it, that is — and is currently sitting at a zero-percent “fresh” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Among the returning films, horror thriller Don’t Breathe continued to post strong numbers at the box office, adding another $8.2 million to its domestic earnings and passing $66.8 million in U.S. theaters. That’s certainly not bad for a film that cost less than $10 million to make.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ supervillain team-up movie also continued to stay strong with a $5.6 million weekend that put it past $307 domestically. If Suicide Squad sticks around long enough, it could threaten the $330 million earned by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in U.S. theaters, and move into the top spot for the studio’s DC Comics Extended Universe franchise.

This week’s upcoming releases covers a wide spectrum of potential box-office hits, with Oliver Stone’s biopic Snowden hitting theaters alongside horror sequel The Blair Witch, romantic comedy Bridget Jones’ Baby, and Eddie Murphy’s drama Mr. Church.