Tom Cruise's Oblivion is poised to win the weekend box office race with a $30 million-plus debut, marking one of the actor's better openings in recent times.
Adult males are expected to fuel the sci-fi epic, which cost Universal and Elliot Inc. $120 million to produce. Oblivion, opening last weekend internationally, has already earned north of $77 million at the foreign box office, where Cruise remains a major draw.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy), Oblivion co-stars Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Melissa Leo. Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark produced.
Cruise's track record domestically has been mixed. Jack Reacher debuted to $15.2 million last December on its way to cuming a so-so $80 million in North America. Conversely, Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol, opening to $29.6 million in December 2011, turned into a box office monster, grossing nearly $700 million worldwide.
Sci-fi is a familiar genre for Cruise, who starred in War of the Worlds and Minority Report, both directed by Steven Spielberg.
Set in 2077, 60 years after Earth was destroyed by aliens, Oblivion follows one of the last humans stationed on the planet as he uncovers a troubling secret. Kosinki's script is adapted from his graphic novel of the same name.
Universal decided to get a jump on the beginning of the crowded summer box office by opening Oblivion now. The studio has gone aggressively after males by advertising during major sporting events, such as March Madness.
Oblivion opens in another seven international markets this weekend.
Expanding nationwide into more than 1,500 theaters this weekend is Derek Cianfrance's indie drama The Place Beyond the Pines, starring Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling. The film, from Focus Features, began its limited run late last month has earned north of $6 million to date.