Feel that change in the air? Fall movie season is about to kick off this weekend with its first big adult drama, the R-rated kidnapping thriller Prisoners. Arriving in theaters after a well-received premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, the movie boasts an impressive cast, including Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Terrence Howard. Welcome to awards season, when the studios start trotting out their prestigious show ponies in earnest.
If you’re looking for something a little less grown-up, the PG-13 horror sequel Insidious Chapter 2 is trying to scare up a strong second weekend following its $40 million opening, while the teen-targeting 3-D dance movie Battle of the Year, featuring R&B star Chris Brown, is also stepping up. (In more limited releases, Ron Howard’s Formula One racing movie Rush is opening in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles, while the sex-addiction comedy Thanks for Sharing will debut in 269 theaters.) But in the end, Prisoners will likely capture the weekend with a solid $20 million bow.
1. Prisoners — $20 million.
Warner Bros., which is releasing Prisoners in 3,260 theaters, may be hoping to replicate the success it had releasing another gritty drama, The Town, on Sept. 17, 2010. But that movie, which opened at nearly $24 million, had the commercial trappings of a mainstream action movie, while Prisoners has a more somber tone and heavier subject matter, with Jackman playing an anguished father who takes the law into his own hands after his young daughter and her friend are abducted. Still, with strong reviews (currently running at 81% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a star-packed cast, the R-rated drama is on track to pull in a more than respectable $20 million.
2. Insidious Chapter 2 — $17 million.
Horror films typically fall pretty hard in their second weekend, but with low-budget horror overperforming at the box office lately—including Insidious director James Wan’s own $135 million summer sleeper hit The Conjuring—and strong mid-week grosses, you can expect a better than average hold for Insidious Chapter 2. The first Insidious, which opened to $13 million, topped out at $54 million. The sequel will surpass that tally in only its second week. Can a third chapter be far behind?
3. Battle of the Year — $9 million.
Dance movies tend to perform far better overseas than domestically; last year’s Step Up Revolution, for example, earned only $35 million at the domestic box office but took in $105 million internationally. Battle of the Year, which centers on a break-dancing competition in Germany, won’t buck that trend. In fact, opening in just 2,008 theaters, it won’t put up much of a battle at all, offering further proof that the dance-movie fad is petering out and the days when a movie like Step Up could open at $20 million are long gone.
4. The Family — $7 million. Relativity’s fish-out-of-water mob comedy opened in a distant second place last week with a solid but unremarkable $14 million. Hampered by generally bad reviews and a dismal CinemaScore of C, it should take at least a 50 per cent fall in its second weekend.
5. Riddick — $5 million.
Vin Diesel’s sci-fi franchise has never exactly burned box office rubber like his Fast and the Furious series, and in its second weekend Riddick fell a sharp 64 percent. Still, the film has been hanging in the top 3 in mid-week rankings and should be able to eke out a spot in fifth place in its third weekend, though it’s somewhat of a toss-up. With Lee Daniels’ The Butler and the comedy We’re the Millers showing impressive stamina, any one of them could squeak into the top 5.
Check back in this weekend for updates.