Emily Blunt‘s “The Girl on the Train” left the station with a solid $1.23 million at the Thursday previews, on track to earn $20 million this opening weekend.
Starring Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett and Luke Evans, the adult drama from DreamWorks Pictures was produced for $40 million and is opening in 3,135 theaters this weekend via Universal Pictures. Tate Taylor (“The Help”) directed, based on the novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins. Experts say the film could open at $30 million.
In comparison, September’s adult drama, “Sully,” earned $1.35 million at the Thursday previews and ended up grossing $35.5 million its opening weekend. 2014’s “Gone Girl,” another book-to-screen adaptation that had a built-in fanbase, earned $1.25 million at the Thursday box office.
“The Girl on the Train” has gotten mixed reviews so far. It currently holds a score of 46 percent on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
This weekend also marks the opening of the highly-anticipated slave revolt drama, “The Birth of the Nation.” Nate Parker wrote, directed and stars in the film alongside Aja Naomi King, Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union and Penelope Ann Miller.
The film is expected to gross around $9 million. It was bought by Fox Searchlight at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for a record-breaking $17.5 million.
“The Birth of a Nation,” produced for a reported $10 million, stars Parker as Nat Turner, who led a 48-hour slave rebellion against his white masters.
It will likely finish in third place this weekend, behind holdover “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” Reviews for “Birth” are strong despite the controversy that has swirled around Parker and the film. Parker became embroiled in a rape case at Penn State nearly two decades ago. He was acquitted on charges from a now-deceased accuser, who committed suicide several years ago.
“Birth of a Nation” currently holds a “fresh” rating of 77 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.