Sully soars above North American box office rivals

Tom Hanks (right) poses with the real Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger at the premiere of Sully  in Los Angeles on Thursday (Sept 8).
Tom Hanks (right) poses with the real Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger at the premiere of Sully in Los Angeles on Thursday (Sept 8).PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Sully, the real-life tale of how a US Airways pilot miraculously landed a disabled passenger jet on New York's Hudson River, debuted atop North America's box office this weekend, industry estimates showed Sunday.

The film earned US$35.5 million ($48.3 million) in its opening weekend, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations, far outpacing the competition.

Tom Hanks plays the title role of Captain Chesley Sullenberger, who was hailed as a national hero in January 2009 after managing to save the lives of 155 passengers and crew as well as the aircraft, even though both of its engines had failed.

In second place was erotic thriller When the Bough Breaks, which debuted with US$15 million in ticket sales.

Suspense flick Don't Breathe, which had topped the box office for two consecutive weeks, slid to third with US$8.2 million in tickets sold.

Fourth place went to Suicide Squad starring Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie as criminals hired to carry out secret missions. It earned $5.65 million this weekend, and a mammoth US$307.4 million in six weeks of release.

The Wild Life - a re-telling of the Robinson Crusoe story as seen by the animals on the island where he was shipwrecked - opened with US$3.4 million in box office receipts.

Rounding out the top 10 films were: Kubo and the Two Strings (US$3.25 million) Pete's Dragon (US$2.94 million) Bad Moms (US$2.83 million) Hell or High Water (US$2.6 million) Sausage Party (US$2.3 million).