Prompting the nation's entertainment journalists to reach for "clever," questionably tasteful puns equating child kidnapping to coming in number one at the box-office, Prisoners used the promise of candy to lure its competition into the back of an unmarked van, then drove to a woodland lair and fed the rival films using a basket on the end of a rope. Fresh off its mostly positive reception at the Toronto International Film Festival, Prisoners made $21.4 million—a solid haul for a relentlessly grim thriller about missing kids, tortured suspects, and Paul Dano looking even creepier than he normally does. The film's success can surely be linked to its stars, Oscar nominees Hugh Jackman and Jake Gylleenhaal, though also perhaps to an audience starved—as one might starve, say, a small and terrified kidnap victim—for some adult drama. Though a slightly later release date might have provoked more lucrative awards talk for Prisoners, the solid reviews could help it linger in the top 10 for a few weeks, like an abductor hanging around the candle-light vigils for his victims.
The week's other major studio release, dance flick Battle Of The Year, got totally served. Making less like its underdog heroes and more like real-life underdogs, who rarely overcome odds or triumph over adversity, the film picked up a dismal $5 million over the weekend. This despite Chris Brown, Sawyer from Lost, the previous success of the Step Up series, and some truly gravity-defying leaps. Meanwhile, both The Family ($7 million) and the Insidious sequel ($14.5 million) took steep second-week plummets; the latter won't match the intake of its director's other 2013 haunted-house movie, The Conjuring, though it's already surpassed the final domestic gross of its predecessor.
In limited release, Enough Said made a solid $240,000 on just four screens, while Ron Howard's Rush fell short of that number by $40,000—coincidentally, its per-screen average—at five locations. (The Formula One biopic, starring Chris "The Thunder God" Hemsworth, goes wide next week.) Largely underperforming was Thanks For Sharing, which made only about twice of what those others did on 50 times as many screens. Perhaps audiences are saving their hard-earned money for next week's sex addiction film, the Joseph Gordon-Levitt vehicle Don Jon. Or maybe they'd just rather see Thor man the wheel of a race car than Bruce Banner romance Pepper Potts. Finally, at the very bottom of the charts was I Spit On Your Grave 2, a sequel that might have made more than $350 if anyone knew it existed.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.
Submit your Newswire tips here.