According to the latest estimates, the new kidnapping drama “Prisoners” opened with a box office-leading $21.4 million. Warner Bros. thriller, which stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, is among the first fall films with Oscar aspirations to open in theaters.
Produced by Alcon Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros., the R-rated film from Canadian director Denis Villeneuve had to overcome disturbing themes and imagery and a 2 1/2-hour run time, and audiences seemed to like â€śPrisonersâ€ť as much as critics, giving it an A- CinemaScore.
“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.”
â€śThis movie, to make well was always about finding the right filmmaker,â€ť said Alcon co-chief Andrew Kosove, whose wife, producer Kira Davis, was so impressed by helmer Denis Villeneuveâ€™s 2010 pic â€śIncendiesâ€ť that she approached Villeneuve to direct â€śPrisoners.â€ť
Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., said the audience was 74 percent under the age of 50. The film, he noted, was launched “very similarly” to Warner Bros.’s October-released “Argo,” which, like “Prisoners,” premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and then the Toronto International Film Festival.
“We’re in terrific company among other fall dramas, particularly considering the film’s running length of 130 minutes,” said Dan Fellman. “Argo opened to $19.5 million, Looper did $20.8 while Moneyball also opened $19.5 million.”
The $46-million production, which stars Jackman as a parent looking for his kidnapped daughter and Gyllenhaal as a police officer trying to make sure the father doesnâ€™t become a vigilante, was expected to open to about $20 million.
Andrew Kosove, who runs â€śPrisonersâ€ť producer Alcon Entertainment with Broderick Johnson, said he was confident positive recommendations would keep the thrillerâ€™s momentum strong in the coming weeks.
â€śIâ€™m really elated with how things turned out. We now have a base audience and we will have a lot of people spreading word of mouth,â€ť Kosove said.
He added it was a good turnaround for Alcon, given that the â€śBlind Sideâ€ť producer was coming off its biggest failure,Â Februaryâ€™s â€śBeautiful Creatures,â€ť which grossed just $19.4 million in domestic release. â€śItâ€™s a much nicer end to the year than it was the beginning,â€ť Kosove said.
Last week’s top film, “Insidious: Chapter 2,” slid to second place for FilmDistrict. The horror film made $14.5 million in its second weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. It has made $60.9 million in two weeks domestically.
The Chris Brown dance film “Battle of the Year” opened poorly for Sony Pictures’ Screen Gems, taking in only $5 million.
A new 3-D Imax release of “The Wizard of Oz” grossed an estimated $3 million on 318 screens, putting it among the Top 10 releases for the weekend, the highest such debut for a film playing only on the large-format screens, reports the LA Times.
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 aÂ U.S. total of $34.7 million.