LOS ANGELES — Adult audiences turned out to take the plunge with “Sully,” director Clint Eastwood’s dramatization of the Miracle on the Hudson. The film took flight with $35.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday, surpassing expectations by around $10 million.

Tom Hanks stars as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who made an emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in 2009, minutes after taking off. In addition to showing Sully’s feat, the film explores the little-known National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the landing.

Both audiences and critics responded strongly to the taut drama – Eastwood’s first since “American Sniper.” An estimated 80 percent of those who turned out this weekend were over the age of 35, according to Warner Bros.

“This is the kind of sophisticated drama that is the antidote for older audiences to the youth-driven blockbuster stylings of the summer season,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box office tracker comScore. “It proves that going to the movies is not just a youth-driven habit. Older audiences love to go to the movies as well and ‘Sully’ is exactly the kind of movie that can bring them out.”

In fact, according to comScore’s PostTrak audience survey, 39 percent turned out because of Hanks. Dergarabedian said that for stars that number is normally in the single digits.

“The movie sells itself,” said Warner Bros. distribution executive Jeff Goldstein. “Clint Eastwood is the master of being understated … he always wants the film to speak for itself, and it did.”

Goldstein was also struck by how well the film, despite its hyper local New York story, played in all areas of North America.

– The Associated Press