The Warner Bros. thriller, which also stars Jake Gyllenhaal, is among the first fall films with Oscar aspirations to open in theatres. It was a strong debut for a serious, R-rated drama that cost about $30 million to make.
Following the robust business for "Lee Daniels' The Butler" (now up to $106.5 million in six weeks for the Weinstein Co.), the large audiences turning out for adult fare bodes well for Hollywood's coming awards season.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the nearly 2 1/2 hour-long "Prisoners" is about the working-class families of two young girls who are abducted. In a story heavy with allegory, Jackman plays a father willing to cross moral lines for justice. Gyllenhaal stars as the small-town police detective trying to navigate the case.
Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., said the audience was 74 per cent 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.
In limited release, two other adult-oriented films opened well. Ron Howard's Formula One tale "Rush" opened with $40,000 per-theatre average in five theatres. And the romantic comedy "Enough Said," which co-stars James Gandolfini in one of his final performances, took in a per-screen average of $60,000, opening in four theatres. Both films expand next week.
"Prisoners," ''Rush" and "Enough Said" have all received good reviews.
"A few years ago, people were saying that the adult drama is dead," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. "We're just seeing a change. Now we're finding that intersection between good movies that are also generating big box office."
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.
Warner Bros.'s 3-D conversion of "The Wizard of Oz" made $3 million, opening on 318 IMAX screens.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday.
1. "Prisoners," $21.4 million.
2. "Insidious: Chapter 2," $14.5 million.
3. "The Family," $7 million.
4. "Instructions Not Included," $5.7 million.
5. "Battle of the Year," $5 million.
6. "We're the Millers," $4.7 million.
7. "Lee Daniels' the Butler," $4.3 million.
8. "Riddick," $3.7 million.
9. "Wizard of Oz," $3 million.
10. "Planes," $2.9 million.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.