'Sully' wins weekend box office: How it successfully drew older moviegoers

The drama starring Tom Hanks as Cpt. Chesley Sullenberger came in first at the box office in its opening weekend as its message resonated with mature audiences.

Keith Bernstein/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
'Sully' stars Tom Hanks as Cpt. Chesley Sullenberger.

The based-on-a-true-story drama "Sully," which stars Tom Hanks as Cpt. Chesley Sullenberger and is directed by Clint Eastwood, came in first place at the box office in its opening weekend and some of its success is being attributed to its ability to attract older moviegoers, a notable difference when compared with the many recent failed summer blockbusters.

"Sully" came in first place with a domestic gross of more than $35 million. Studio Warner Bros. reports that an estimated 80 percent of moviegoers who checked out the movie were over the age of 35. Paul Dergarabedian, comScore senior media analyst, told the Associated Press that the success "Sully" had in drawing older moviegoers shows that that audience may have been ready for something different from this summer's tentpoles.

"This is the kind of sophisticated drama that is the antidote for older audiences to the youth-driven blockbuster stylings of the summer season," Mr. Dergarabedian said.

This may be a case of moviegoers voting with their ticket purchases – showing they want more dramas like this rather than the summer sequels that performed poorly over the past few months – and that they are ready for the fall movie season, which traditionally includes more serious fare and Oscar hopefuls. (For example, "Sully" had a bigger opening weekend than recent blockbusters that fizzled such as "Alice Through the Looking Glass," "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising," and "Ben-Hur.")

"['Sully' is] the kind of adult-oriented, midbudget drama that isn't supposed to succeed in theaters anymore, at least if you listen to franchise-obsessed studio executives," New York Times writer Brooks Barnes wrote. And yet the film performed well.

As for the rest of this weekend's box office, the movie "When the Bough Breaks" came in second place in its opening weekend, grossing $15 million. The suspenseful box office hit "Don't Breathe" slid to third after having opened in late August, taking in an additional gross of more than $8 million. 

The DC Comics movie "Suicide Squad," which also opened in August, placed fourth, grossing more than $5 million, while the animated movie "The Wild Life" came in fifth, taking in more than $3 million.

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