Weekend Box Office: PRISONERS Dominates with $21.4 Million

     September 22, 2013

prisoners-hugh-jackman-slicePrisoners took top honors at the domestic box office this weekend, with an estimated $21.4 million from 3,260 locations. That’s a solid debut for the kidnapping drama and just a bit under the $23.8 million that The Town put up on this weekend back in 2010. Meanwhile, the 3D dance pic Battle of the Year stumbled badly, though predictably, and The Wizard of Oz 3D saw the best numbers yet for an IMAX-exclusive re-release.

Title Weekend Total
1.  Prisoners $21,430,000 $21.4
2.  Insidious Chapter Two $14,500,000 $60.8
3.  The Family $7,000,000 $25.6
4.  Instructions Not Included $5,700,000 $34.2
5.  Battle of the Year $5,000,000 $5
6.  We’re The Millers $4,670,000 $138.1
7.  Lee Daniels’ The Butler $4,304,000 $106.4
8.  Riddick $3,672,000 $37.1
9.  The Wizard of Oz IMAX 3D $3,022,000 $3
10.  Planes $2,061,000 $86.5

prisoners-posterWith Lee Daniels’ The Butler closing out its impressive box office run, adult audiences made Prisoners the clear winner this weekend. The Warner Bros. drama performed about as expected – with an opening gross that compared favorably to recent September hits, like Moneyball ($19.5 million), Contagion ($22.4 million) and The Town. Prisoners also came in above End of Watch, the cop drama (co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal) that took number one on this weekend last year with $13.4 million.

If Prisoners’ opening estimate put it in good company, it is not yet clear if the R-rated feature will stay there. Moneyball, The Town and Contagion all held extremely well in their second and third frames, allowing word of mouth to build among their target demographic. Prisoners has seen mostly positive reviews (currently 79% on Rotten Tomatoes), but each of the former films we listed were critically stronger.

Along with the debut of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 next weekend, Prisoners will have to hold its own against a more age-appropriate competitor when Rush expands nationwide. The racing drama from director Ron Howard opened in just five locations this weekend, earning an estimated $40,000 per screen and a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 90%.

After coming close to breaking September’s all-time opening record one week ago, Insidious Chapter Two was down 64% in its second frame. That’s a fairly standard drop for a horror movie, less than the 75% dip of this summer’s The Purge and about equal to Paranormal Activity 3’s 2011 sophomore hold. By comparison, Insidious was down less than 30% on its own second frame – though the original also started with a much lower opening. In any case, Insidious 2 doesn’t need to concern itself with great holds. The sequel cost just $5 million and has earned over $60 million in ten days so, from this point on, it’s all gravy.

the-wizard-of-oz-3d-posterBattle of the Year has no box office gravy in its future. The 3D dance movie debuted in just over 2,000 locations this weekend, earning an estimated $5 million that was barely good enough for a spot in the top five. Distributor Sony/Screen Gems was hoping for at least $8 million from Battle – a figure that represents a sharp drop from the uninspiring $11.7 million launch of Step Up Revolution last summer. Based on the declining returns the dance genre has been posting since its Stomp the Yard heyday, Battle of the Year may be one of the last of its kind… may it stomp in peace.

In a more sincere in memoriam, the final on-screen appearance of actor James Gandolfini hit theatres this weekend. Director Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said earned a reported $240,000 from just four locations for the best per-theatre average of the frame. Also making big news in limited release was the 3D re-issue of The Wizard of Oz in 318 IMAX locations. The 74 year-old classic earned just over $3 million in three days: nearly as much as Raiders of the Lost Ark earned in total from its 2012 IMAX re-release.

Even with the solid performance of Prisoners, total box office earnings were down 16% from this time last year. Next weekend is all about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, which is on track to set a new record for September with over $42.5 million. It’s been four years since the original Cloudy became a surprise hit – and almost two months since a new animated film hit theatres. Hotel Transylvania’s record is history.


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