Tom Cruise Stages Return To Box-Office #1 With ‘Oblivion’

Sci-fi flick is expected to take in more than $30 million this weekend.

“Identity Thief” and “The Croods” have both made over $100 million, but “Oz: The Great and Powerful” seems to be the only true blockbuster of 2013 thus far. But this weekend, Tom Cruise and “Tron: Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski are looking to change that with “Oblivion,” a sure thing for the #1 spot with no other widespread releases hitting theaters.

Universal is estimating a $30 million opening for the sci-fi epic, which stars Cruise as one of the last people on a post-apocalyptic Earth. The Los Angeles Times cited pre-release audience surveys as the basis for their $37 million projection. But Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock told MTV News he expects “Oblivion” to rake in more than $40 million, noting that it has already made half of its $120 million budget overseas.

“While Tom Cruise isn’t the stratospheric star he once was, ‘Oblivion’ simply looks too grand and too gorgeous for genre fans to pass up, plus it likely sports enough amped-up action and adventure to satiate the multiplex masses,” Bock told MTV News. “Without much competition next weekend, it’s conceivable ‘Oblivion’ could take the #1 spot two weekends in a row. And as long as this makes over $100 million domestically, I’m sure Universal will be relieved.”

Cruise recently gushed to MTV News about how making the movie brought out his inner kid. “I’m a fan of movies, and when you look at ‘Oblivion,’ it has the bubble ship, the bubble bike, we’re shooting in Iceland and the mountains of California, and the story is so cool,” he told Josh Horowitz at the film’s premiere. “It’s the kind of movie you’re going to want to see again… So it is that teenage kid, going, that bubble ship — who doesn’t want that bubble ship?”

Rob Zombie’s latest directorial outing, “The Lords of Salem,” will debut in just over 300 theaters this weekend. That’s a record low for one of the hard rocker’s horror flicks. “Zombie’s particular brand of horror has a devoted following, no doubt, but unfortunately the distributor of ‘The Lords of Salem,’ Anchor Bay, doesn’t quite have the marketing muscle of Weinstein or Lionsgate, which handled his previous chill pills,” said Bock, expecting not much more than $600,000.

Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper’s “A Place Among the Pines” will expand from 514 theaters to more than 1,400 locations. Critics have raved about the crime flick from “Blue Valentine” director Derek Cianfrance. “Pines” has collected $6.4 million thus far. Sports-themed “Home Run” and “Ain’t in it for My Health: A Film about Levon Helm” (a documentary about the making of the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer’s comeback album) will also open in limited release. Last weekend’s #1 film, the Jackie Robinson biopic “42,” should continue to do strong business.

Whatever the success of “Oblivion,” it will have to contend with the gargantuan “Iron Man 3″ before too long, which is sure to knock all 2013 movies thus far out of the box, particularly in the wake of “Marvel’s The Avengers.”