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'Prisoners' tops box office
The more adult-oriented fall moviegoing season got off to a strong start, as the kidnapping drama Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman, opened with ticket sales of $21.4 million to top the weekend box office totals, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The Warner Bros. thriller is among the first fall films with Oscar aspirations to open in theaters. It was a strong debut for a serious, R-rated drama that cost about $46 million to make.
Following the robust business for Lee Daniels' The Butler (now up to $106.5 million in six weeks), the large audiences turning out for adult fare bodes well for Hollywood's coming awards season.
The nearly 2½ -hour-long Prisoners is about the working-class families of two girls who are abducted. In a story heavy with allegory, Jackman plays a father willing to cross moral lines for justice. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the small-town police detective working the case.
Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., said the audience was 74 percent younger than 50, with only 8 percent younger than 18. He said the film was launched "very similarly" to Argo, both premiering 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 Rush, about Formula One auto racing, opened in five theaters with a $40,000 per-screen average. The romantic comedy Enough Said, which co-stars the late James Gandolfini in one of his final performances, opened in four theaters with a per-screen average of $60,000. Both films expand next week.
"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."
Here are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com:1. Prisoners, $21.4 million 2. Insidious: Chapter 2, $14.5 million3. The Family, $7 million4. Instructions Not Included, $5.7 million 5. Battle of the Year, $5 million 6. We're the Millers, $4.7 million. 7. The Butler, $4.3 million8. Riddick, $3.7 million 9. Wizard of Oz, $3 million10. Planes, $2.9 million.