Starring two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks in the title role — though you wouldn't know it by looking at the film's poster — Paul Greengrass' inspired-by-real-life-events Captain Phillips grossed an estimated $8.5 million from 3,020 venues on Friday, October 11, 2013, including $600,000 from Thursday night showings, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Captain Phillips chronicles the adventures of the titular captain of an American cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. (Photo: Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips.)
Budgeted at $55 million — not including marketing and distribution expenses — Captain Phillips should collect anywhere between $23-25 million by Sunday evening. A major Saturday surge and a strong Sunday hold could lead to even higher results, but for now that's mere speculation. Either way, Captain Phillips has absolutely no chance of topping this weekend's domestic box office chart, as the no. 1 spot belongs to holdover Gravity. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, Gravity is expected to bring in around $40-$45 million.
Official studio estimates will be released on Sunday. Weekend box office actuals come out on Monday.
Tom Hanks' first solid domestic box office opening since 'Angels & Demons'
Now, at least partly due to the presence of Tom Hanks — unseen in the poster, but frequently seen in the film's promo circuit — Captain Phillips will undoubtedly enjoy a stronger domestic opening than Ben Affleck's Argo, which debuted around this time last year with $19.45 million. The Best Picture Academy Award winner earlier this year, Argo ultimately raked in $136.02 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to a more modest but still impressive $96.3 million internationally. (See also box office comparisons between 'Captain Phillips' and 'United 93,' 'Green Zone.')
Also worth noting is that a year ago Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski's Cloud Atlas, starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, had one of the worst debuts of any Tom Hanks movie since the beginning of his film career in the early '80s: $9.61 million from 2,008 theaters. One had to go back all the way to the widely panned 1990 drama The Bonfire of the Vanities, co-starring Melanie Griffith and Bruce Willis, to find a weaker Tom Hanks opening-weekend performer (in wide release).
Needless to say, in terms of box office Captain Phillips is going to be a vast improvement over Cloud Atlas, at least in North America. In fact, Captain Phillips is about to mark Tom Hanks' best domestic opening — of course, not including Lee Unkrich's animated Toy Story 3 — since the Ron Howard-directed Angels & Demons in 2009. The sequel to The Da Vinci Code debuted with $46.2 million.
Even after factoring in inflation, in the last decade only three Tom Hanks movies — featuring Hanks himself, as opposed to just his voice (Toy Story 3) or a digitalized image (Robert Zemeckis' The Polar Express) — have opened with more than $25 million (the inflation-adjusted figures below are approximations):
- The aforementioned Angels & Demons (2009) with $50 million.
- Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code (2006), co-starring Audrey Tautou and Ian McKellen, with $96 million.
- Steven Spielberg's The Terminal (2004), co-starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, with $25 million.
Joel and Ethan Coen's The Ladykillers, starring Hanks in the old Alec Guinness role; Mike Nichols' Charlie Wilson's War, co-starring Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman; Larry Crowne, also with Julia Roberts; Stephen Daldry's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, with Sandra Bullock; and Cloud Atlas were all either box office disappointments or downright box office disasters in the U.S. and Canada. In fact, barring a disaster of some sort, after two weekends Captain Phillips will surely far surpass the total domestic take of each of Tom Hanks' last three movies (Larry Crowne, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Cloud Atlas).
Tom Hanks 1992-2002: Two Best Actor Oscars and great box office grosses
Tom Hanks had a great run from 1992-2002, including Best Actor Oscar wins for Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia (1993) and Robert Zemeckis' Forrest Gump (1994). Beginning with Penny Marshall's A League of Their Own (1992), co-starring Geena Davis and Madonna, and ending with Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition, co-starring Paul Newman, and Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, Hanks had one major box office hit after another.
Adjusted for inflation, during that period only one Tom Hanks star vehicle failed to reach the $150 million mark in North America: the aforementioned Road to Perdition, with $146 million. (The Tom Hanks-directed That Thing You Do was a highly personal, low-budget effort; Hanks is part of a mostly little-known — back in 1996 — ensemble cast.)
Tom Hanks toplines 'Captain Phillips' cast
Besides Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips features Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Catherine Keener, David Warshofsky, Faysal Ahmed, Michael Chernus, Max Martini, Corey Johnson, Chris Mulkey, Omar Berdouni, Yul Vazquez, and Marc Anwar. Billy Ray, among whose screenwriting credits are The Hunger Games, Breach, and State of Play, adapted Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty's book A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea.
Tom Hanks Captain Phillips photo: Sony Pictures.