The $130-million film, starring Russell Crowe as the Old Testament figure, opened to $1.6 million in ticket sales from midnight screenings Thursday on 3,000 screens in the U.S. and Canada. With its Friday take, the film is expected to earn around $40 million for the weekend. That puts it ahead of projections by its studio, Paramount Pictures, which had forecast a $30-million opening weekend.
The film is also performing well overseas, where it has already grossed $28.3 million.
"Sabotage," the weekend's other major release, fared far worse. The film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is trying to slip back into his action-star groove following his tenure as California's governor, took in approximately $1.8 million Friday on 2,486 screens.
The movie has received across-the-board negative responses from critics, according to the film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, and it looks to be Schwarzenegger's lowest-grossing movie in decades.
"Divergent" was the No. 2 movie at the box office on Friday, with an estimated take of $8.1 million. Its total domestic gross is now $76.8 million.
In third place, "Muppets Most Wanted" earned $2.6 million. The Muppet sequel has grossed just $24.4 million so far.