Box Office: Tom Hanks' 'Captain Phillips' Earns $600,000 Thursday Night

Directed by Paul Greengrass, the Somali pirate drama is hoping for a place in this year's awards race; Robert Rodriguez's "Machete Kills" takes in $200,000.

Sony's Captain Phillips earned $600,000 as it began rolling out in theaters Thursday night, boosting chances that the movie will hit $20 million in its debut.

Directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks, the Somali pirate drama hopes for a berth in this year's awards race. The critically acclaimed film cost $55 million to produce.

Captain Phillips outpaced the $450,000 earned Thursday night by Lee Daniels' The Butler, which had a $24.6 million opening in August. However, with Gravity still taking up plenty of oxygen, Sony believes Captain Phillips will instead match the $19.5 million opening of Argo in October 2012.

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: On Board With 'Captain Phillips' Stars Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi

Warner Bros.' Gravity, enjoying record-breaking weekday business, is expected to top the North American box office in its second weekend with a gross north of $28 million. Alfonso Cuaron's space epic, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, will cross the $80 million mark domestically sometime on Friday.

Robert Rodriguez' Machete Kills took in $200,000 Thursday night. The exploitation action film is expected to earn $8 million in its domestic opening.