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Fueled by older adults and strong reviews, Denis Villeneuve‘s dark crime thriller Prisoners — starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal — topped the North American box office with a solid $21.4 million opening.
The R-rated drama marks another win for Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove‘s Alcon Entertainment, which fully financed and produced the $46 million film. Warner Bros. — Alcon’s longtime partner — is distributing the well-reviewed movie, which opens in roughly the same corridor that the studio used to launch Ben Affleck‘s Argo last year (that film opened to $19.5 million).
“It’s very gratifying to see movies do well that aren’t straight-down-the-middle studio fare,” Johnson said. “And to have this film succeed bodes well for having more diverse product come out of the major studios.”
Prisoners skewed slightly female (52 percent), while 72 percent of the audience was over the age of 25 and 26 percent over the age of 50. The movie received an official B+ CinemaScore, although Warners said a Saturday survey showed the grade rising to an A-.
“We’re in terrific company among other fall dramas, particularly considering the film’s running length of 130 minutes,” said Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman. “Argo opened to $19.5 million, Looper did $20.8 while Moneyball also opened $19.5 million.”
Fellman, noting that Prisoners marks Alcon’s second-best three-day opening after The Blind Side ($34.1 million), also said the number of women turning out was impressive.
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, fell 64 percent in its second weekend (not unusual for a genre film). The movie, released by FilmDistrict, placed No. 2 in grossing $14.5 million for a stellar 10-day domestic total of $60.9 million.
Sony/Screen Gems’ Chris Brown 3D dance movie Battle of the Year opened to a soft $5 million to come in No. 5. 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.
Imax’s exclusive 3D re-release of The Wizard of Oz paid off, grossing north of $3 million from 318 theaters, second only to the re-release of Jurassic Park. The iconic film — now 75 years old — was converted to 3D under the supervision of Warners.
The film marked the re-opening of the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, which is now an IMAX location.
Elsewhere at the box office, Relativity and Luc Besson‘s dark mob comedy The Family fell 50 percent in its second weekend, grossing $7 million to place No. 3 and pushing its domestic total of $25.6 million. Coming in No. 4 was Lionsgate and Pantelion Films’ Spanish-language hit Instructions Not Included, which took in $5.7 million for a U.S. total of $34.7 million.
New Line and Warners’ R-rated comedy We’re the Millers continued to impress, falling only 14 percent to $4.7 million in its seventh weekend. The film, headlining Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston, has earned $138.7 million domestically and north of $200 million worldwide. Fellman said no film in the studio’s history has posted such a slim decline in its seventh outing.
At the specialty box office, Nicole Holofcener‘s romantic comedy Enough Said, starring the late James Gandolfini opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus, opened to strong results, grossing $240,000 from five theaters for a location average of $60,000, the best of the weekend.
Ron Howard‘s well-reviewed Formula One drama Rush, starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, earning $200,000 for a solid theater average of $39,991. Universal is using the limited launch to build word-of-mouth before Rush expands nationwide Sept. 27. Formula One movies face a major challenge in the U.S., where the sport has never been popular.
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival