Box Office Report: Tom Cruise's 'Oblivion' Off to Solid Start

Oblivion Tom Cruise Morgan Freeman Film Still - H 2013

Oblivion Tom Cruise Morgan Freeman Film Still - H 2013

Universal's sci-fi pic -- on track for a $35 million opening -- leads despite theater closures from the lockdown of Boston during the manhunt; the city makes up roughly 2 percent of the overall box office.

Universal's Oblivion -- headlining Tom Cruise -- is off to a strong start at the Friday box office and could debut in the $35 million range for the weekend, which would make it one of the actor's better recent openings.

Universal and other studios aren't sure to what degree the continuing crisis in Boston will impact weekend numbers. Nearly all businesses, including theaters, were closed Friday because of the manhunt for the marathon bombing suspect. Boston makes up roughly 2 percent of the overall box office.

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.

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Adult male moviegoers are fueling Oblivion, which cost Universal and Elliot Inc. $120 million to produce. Oblivion, opening last weekend internationally,  already has earned north of $77 million at the foreign box office, where Cruise remains a major draw.

Cruise's track record domestically has been mixed. Jack Reacher debuted to $15.2 million in December on its way to earning 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.

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Set in 2077, 60 years after Earth has been destroyed by aliens, Oblivion follows one of the last humans stationed on the planet as he uncovers a troubling secret. Kosinski's script is adapted from his graphic novel.

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 including the NCAA's 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 in late March has earned north of $6 million.


Twitter: @PamelaDayM