Box Office Preview: 'Prisoners' Hopes to Hold 'Insidious 2' Hostage

Denis Villeneuve's dark crime thriller Prisoners, headlined by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, has a strong chance of winning the North American box-office race this weekend thanks to strong reviews, toppling holdover Insidious 2.

Prisoners is expected to open in the $20 million range, a strong launch for the $30 million film, which was fully financed and produced by Alcon Entertainment. Alcon partner Warner Bros. is distributing the kidnapping drama, which opens in roughly the same corridor that Warners used to launch Ben Affleck's Argo last year.

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Also starring Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Paul Dano, Prisoners tells the story of two families whose daughters are kidnapped. Jackman's character, the father of one of the girls, begins to clash with the police detective in charge of the investigation (Gyllenhaal) and takes matters into his own hands.

Prisoners made its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival this month before heading to the Toronto Film Festival.

Insidious 2, which opened to a rousing $40.3 million last weekend, is expected to gross south of $20 million in its second outing, considering genre films generally fall 60 percent. One caveat: The first Insidious, opening in spring 2011 to roughly $13 million, fell less than 30 percent in its following weekend. Through Wednesday, Insidious 2 has grossed a stellar $45.2 million for FilmDistrict and the producers.

Overall box-office revenue isn't expected to be hurt by this week's release of video game Grand Auto Theft V -- which racked up an unprecedented $800 million in worldwide sales in its first 24 hours of release -- since none of the new offerings directly goes after the video game audience. Prisoners is being billed as an adult drama, while Sony/Screen Gems' Chris Brown 3D dance movie Battle of the Year will cater heavily to younger females.

Battle of the Year is the weekend's only other new nationwide release and is expected to open to a muted $8 million to $10 million. Costing $20 million to produce and directed by Benson Lee, the 3D movie stars Brown opposite Josh Holloway, Laz Alonso, Josh Peck and Caity Lotz. The film is based on Lee's documentary about break dancing.

The specialty box office sees a number of new films entering the fray, led by Ron Howard's Formula One drama Rush, starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl. Universal is opening the film in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles in advance of Rush's nationwide launch Sept. 27, hoping to build word of mouth. (Warner Bros. often uses this tactic for its fall adult dramas.)

Other new specialty offerings include Roadside Attractions' Thanks for Sharing, Stuart Blumberg's dramedy about recovery from sexual addiction. The film, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins, made its worldwide premiere a year ago at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival.

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