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Box office preview: 'Prisoners' looks to hold adult moviegoers captive

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.

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Box office report: 'Insidious: Chapter 2' boasts a stunning $41 million debut; 'The Family' comes in second

The mob is no match for a horror flick at the box office.

Even though the Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer comedy The Family fared better than expected, the weekend of Friday the 13th was always going to belong to James Wan, whose Insidious: Chapter 2 (CinemaScore: B+) took in a staggering $41.05 million in 3,049 locations with a per-screen average of $13,463, making it the biggest September opening for a horror pic by over $10 million (The Exorcism of Emily Rose opened at $30.05 million in 2005). We’ll have to wait till the actuals come in on Monday, but Wan just barely managed to lose out to himself; his other summer success, The Conjuring, opened in first place in July with $41.9 million. This is another hit for Blumhouse Productions, too, which produced the micro-budget horror film and enjoyed similar profits with this year’s The Purge.

Wan, who also directed Saw and the first Insidious, has said he won’t be taking on any more horror films in the near future, but that’s just because he’s off to something much bigger: the billion-dollar Fast & Furious franchise.
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Box office update: 'Insidious: Chapter 2' enjoys a $20 million Friday the 13th

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Friday the 13th is James Wan’s lucky day.

Audiences turned out in droves to check out Insidious: Chapter 2, which opened at an impressive $20 million. Film District’s PG-13-rated thriller opened in 3,049 theaters with significant social media and pre-sale buzz working in its favor. It’s also been a great summer for modestly budgeted horror films, including The Purge and Wan’s own The Conjuring. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as the poor parents just trying to protect their unlucky son from the demon spirits they thought they were rid off at the end of the first film. The $5 million film, boasting a $6,579 location average, should walk away with at least $40 million this weekend, even with the likelihood that teens won’t turn out in the same numbers on the significantly less exciting Saturday the 14th. Still, this is on track with The Conjuring, which also starred Wilson and opened at $41.8 million in mid-July.

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Box office preview: Mob comedy 'The Family' attempts to intimidate 'Insidious Chapter 2'

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Two very different kinds of families are facing off at the box office this weekend: One is a Robert De Niro-led mafia clan in the witness protection program and the other is a family who may not be entirely rid of the demonic spirits who possessed their young son.

We hate to break it to Mr. De Niro, despite his mafia patriarch credentials, it’s not even a contest. Insidious Chapter 2, James Wan’s sequel to his runaway hit, Insidious, will win the weekend, while Luc Besson’s The Family might not even make second place. Instead, Wan will compete with his Fast & Furious 7 star Vin Diesel, whose Riddick brought in $19 million its first weekend in theaters.
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Box office report: 'Riddick' wins weekend with $18.7 million; 'Instructions Not Included' continues to impress

Vin Diesel had to wait nine years to bring his passion project, Riddick, to the big screen, but the wait paid off — the film topped the chart in its opening weekend and became the star’s second number one film this year after Fast & Furious 6. Riddick opened with $18.7 million, which marks a 23 percent drop from The Chronicles of Riddick‘s $24.3 million start in 2004. That may sound like a steep decline, but it’s important to remember that the two films had a very different sets of stakes.

The Chronicles of Riddick cost $105 million and finished with a weak $57 million total — not to mention poor critical reviews and weak audience reactions from fans who felt like the film’s PG-13 rating took away the dark edge present in franchise launchpad, Pitch Black, which earned $39.2 million in 2000. Diesel obtained the rights to Riddick from Universal as part of his negotiations to return to the Fast & Furious franchise, and he spent years raising the film’s $38 million budget through independent financiers. Universal agreed to distribute the film, and the studio shouldn’t be too disappointed that Riddick earned back half of its budget on opening weekend, especially during the traditionally weak post-Labor Day frame. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Riddick' wins Friday with $7.3 million, 'One Direction' falls hard

Vin Diesel’s passion project Riddick isn’t earning Fast & Furious-sized numbers, but the sci-fi sequel to 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick managed a fair performance on its first day in theaters — and one that ensures the star his second number one debut this year. Riddick took in $7.3 million on Friday, which should yield an opening weekend of about $18 to 19 million. While that’s substantially lower than Chronicles‘ $24.3 million debut, the stakes for each film were quite different: Chronicles cost $105 million to make, while Riddick was independently financed for $38 million. Distributor Universal shouldn’t be too disappointed.

In second place, Lee Daniels’ The Butler pulled in $2.4 million on its fourth Friday. The Weinstein-backed drama may earn about $9 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period and finish the frame with a $92 million total. We’re the Millers finished close behind with $2.3 million, giving the film a $118.2 million total and making it Jason Sudeikis’ highest-grossing film ever ahead of Horrible Bosses. The R-rated comedy is headed to an $8 million weekend and $124 million total by Sunday night. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Riddick' poised to dominate slow weekend; 'Instructions Not Included' expanding

The booming box office summer is over, and vacation season has officially come to a close. Kids are back in school, parents have lost their summer Fridays, and for many Americans, attention will now shift to the start of NFL football, which kicks off on Sunday. In short, it’s not a great weekend for the movies.

Only one new wide release is hitting theaters this week (along with 23 indies): Universal’s unlikely Vin Diesel sequel Riddick, which should top the chart with ease. Also hoping to make a splash is the Spanish-language comedy Instructions Not Included, which broke out last weekend with $10.4 million and is now getting a significant expansion by distributor Pantelion. Meanwhile, last weekend’s champion over the Friday-Sunday period, One Direction: This Is Us, may plummet out of the top five altogether. Here’s how the chart will likely shake out:
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Comic-Con: Vin Diesel on 'Riddick,' and what Marvel wants him to do

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Vin Diesel has been playing Riddick since 2000’s Pitch Black and the third installment, Riddick, hits theaters this fall. So how does he prepare for the role he originated over a decade ago?

“I actually went upstate to the woods for about four months and just centered before playing this characters because he’s such a introspective character. The anti-social demeanor is something you have to work at, if you’re me,” the actor tells EW.

And what about that big Marvel announcement? Although Diesel really couldn’t divulge any information, he says that “Marvel was excited about bring a different kind of relationship, a different kind of love story, I guess kind of inspired from the Dom-Letty relationship, into the Marvel universe.”

Watch the interview with Diesel, his Riddick co-star Katee Sackhoff and director David Twohy below!

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'Riddick' and 'Kick-Ass 2' Comic-Con panels: Universal unveils ultraviolent sequels

The Projects: Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to 2010’s ultraviolent dark superhero comedy, which features an assortment of new costumed psychopaths. And Riddick, the third film in the Pitch Black-spawned franchise about Vin Diesel’s galactic anti-hero.

The Panel: For Kick-Ass 2, the giant panel included returning stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse; new co-stars Lindy Booth, Donald Faison, John Leguizamo; director/writer Jeff Wadlow; and co-creators Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. (Although Chloe Grace Moretz wasn’t onstage, they beamed her in via satellite for a few questions.) Riddick opted for a smaller crew of Diesel, co-star (and Comic-Con demi-goddess) Katee Sackhoff, and writer-director David Twohy.

Footage Screened: Kick-Ass 2 showed off an extended version of the trailer, although the panelists noted that it was a green-band trailer to general cries of disappointment from the crowd. (The red-band version is already online.) The Riddick footage was also an extended trailer, but with a special focus on a scene where a captured Riddick and a crew of bounty hunters face down a flock of mysterious, spiky-tailed creatures.

Snap Judgment: The Kick-Ass 2 trailer almost certainly suffered from the green-banding; as Mintz-Plasse noted, “There’s about 300 swear words cut out of that.” The footage we saw lacked the hyper-stylized living-graphic-novel vibe that Matthew Vaughn brought to the original movie; it also looked disappointingly sentimental, with lots of talk about how the mask is your true self and we’re all heroes, etc etc.

Riddick, by comparison, looked uncompromisingly dark and got straight to the point, with lots of CGI vistas and a pumping bone-crack soundtrack. It looks crazy — and given all the CGI, some of it felt less like Pitch Black and more like a bleak sequel (bleakquel?) to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Which doesn’t sound too bad.

The Big Revelations: The panel was low on buzzy reveals, besides offering brief peeks at new characters like Faison’s Dr. Gravity and Booth’s Night Bitch — who, according to the actress, may have a steamy scene with the titular hero. However, Christopher Mintz-Plasse revealed one major change from book-to-film: His villainous character no longer kills a dog.

The Riddick panelists were equally tightlipped, mostly because Diesel and Twohy — who were last at Comic-Con with Pitch Black over a decade ago — just seemed incredibly happy to be onstage. However, the footage did reveal that the new film finds Riddick, at least initially, in a dangerously domesticated state of mind: The film seems to be about the character getting back to basics, which a theoretical smarmy pop culture writer could say is a comment on how the new film is stripping out the big-budget decadence of The Chronicles of Riddick. (Diesel did have a big revelation, though it wasn’t related to Riddick.)

Most Incisive Audience Question: The Kick-Ass 2 panel didn’t have a Q&A session, possibly because the studio didn’t want anyone asking incisive questions about co-star Jim Carrey’s recent twitter history. One attendee at the Riddick panel asked: “Because you play so many badass characters: For someone like me, who doesn’t sound as badass as you or look as badass as you : How can I be more badass?” Diesel responded thoughtfully: “I am seeing a level of badass growing in you as you speak. I think every syllable takes you to a higher level of badassery. Continue on on your journey to be a badass.”

'Riddick': Exclusive image from Vin Diesel's long-awaited sci-fi sequel!

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September 6 sees the release of Riddick, a sequel-slash-kinda-sorta-reboot of the franchise that began in the R-rated space-horror gem Pitch Black and continued in the PG-13 actioner The Chronicles of Riddick. The new film marks a return to the series’ roots. Once again, Vin Diesel’s anti-hero finds himself marooned on a planet and bedeviled by various threats: Bounty hunters, vengeful old enemies, the occasional creatures.

In the exclusive image above, you can spot four of the film’s stars: Katee Sackhoff, Matthew Noble, Vin Diesel, and Vin Diesel’s muscles. Expect to learn more about Riddick next week, when Diesel and writer-director David Twohy headline the Riddick panel at Comic-Con.

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