Darren Aronofsky's "Noah," from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises, pulled in $1.6 million in ticket sales in the United States and Canada from Thursday night showings, according to studio estimates.
The $130-million Old Testament epic, starring Russell Crowe as the title character, debuted in about 3,000 theaters before launching its full 3,500-theater run on Friday.
A $1.6-million take is slightly more than the $1.4 million that Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" generated from its Thursday evening bow last October. The space thriller went on to gross $56 million in its domestic debut.
"Noah" is expected to take in roughly $40 million through Sunday, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys, though Paramount has projected closer to $30 million. Either result should make it the No. 1 movie at the domestic box office this weekend.
The biblical disaster film has been making waves overseas already, starting with strong openings in South Korea and Mexico, which have accounted for $10.2 million and $8 million in revenue, respectively.
Together with solid kickoffs in Australia ($750,000) and Russia ($2.75 million), the foreign take for the PG-13-rated "Noah" so far stands at about $22 million.
Also at the box-office, Arnold Schwarzenegger's new action drama "Sabotage," about a DEA team whose elite agents are targeted by a ruthless drug cartel, is expected to take in less than $10 million in its debut.