LOS ANGELES -- Three new wide releases offered an auspicious start to the fall box office season after a lackluster summer failed to recoup the deficit.
In first place, Focus Features' "Downton Abbey" film adaptation opened with an impressive $31 million, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore. Analysts projected the film would earn around $20 million.
The result is the biggest opening ever for Focus Features, beating previous record holder "Insidious: Chapter 3," which earned $22.7 million in 2015.
"Downton Abbey" began its international rollout last weekend where it earned $11.7 million in 17 countries and posted the No. 1 opening in the United Kingdom with $6.3 million. This week, it added $10 million in international receipts for a global cumulative of $61.8 million.
The long-awaited revival of the beloved British TV drama comes three years after the ITV series stopped airing in the U.S. as part of PBS' Masterpiece Classics. Michael Engler, who helmed several episodes, directed the film while series creator Julian Fellowes penned the script.
The film picks up about a year and a half from the events of the series' finale and centers around how the Earl of Grantham and his family prepare for a visit from the King and Queen of England. Almost all of the series' original cast members returned for the movie including Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.
It was well-received with an A CinemaScore and an 85% "fresh" rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
In second place, Fox's Brad Pitt space drama "Ad Astra" debuted with $19.2 million, slightly above analyst projections of $17 million.
Directed by James Gray, the film follows an astronaut (Pitt) on a dangerous mission to uncover the truth about his missing father, a renegade scientist played by Tommy Lee Jones.
Despite its warm reception at the Venice Film Festival, the film struggled to resonate with moviegoers posting a B-minus CinemaScore despite an 81% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.