Box Office Guru Wrapup: Prisoners Captures the Top Spot

Insidious Chapter 2 and The Family round out the top three.

North American audiences drove the well-reviewed kidnapping thriller Prisoners to the number one spot with a solid opening of $21.4M, according to estimates. The Warner Bros. release averaged a commendable $6,574 from 3,260 locations and marks the studio's fifth top spot debut of the year.

Mature adults made up the audience for this R-rated pic which used strong marks from critics and starpower from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal to attract a debut that was especially good for this normally weak time of year. Cross-gender appeal helped too as evidenced by the breakdown of 52% female and 48% male. A very high 72% was over 25. The thriller cost $46M to produce.

Moviegoers liked what they saw. The CinemaScore grade was a respectable B+ while Saturday sales shot up 29% from Friday's launch indicating good word-of-mouth and an older audience. That could bode well for future weeks although competition for mature adults will get fierce very fast and furious. One advantage Prisoners may end up having at the domestic box office is that it is a very American story compared to the more international-themed adult dramas coming soon.

Fright sequel Insidious Chapter 2 tumbled an understandable 64% to an estimated $14.5M in its second weekend and pushed its ten-day total to a robust $60.9M which already exceeds the $54M of its predecessor. Look for FilmDistrict to end at about $85M with a third chapter now in development.

Fellow sophomore The Family dropped 50% to an estimated $7M and has banked $25.6M to date for Relativity. A $40-45M final may result. The Spanish-language hit Instructions Not Included enjoyed another wonderful frame and actually saw sales climb by a healthy 17% to $5.7M putting the Lionsgate release at $34.3M.

The 3D international dance flick Battle of the Year was rejected by young adults and limped into fifth place with only a $5M opening weekend, according to estimates. The Sony release averaged a weak $2,490 from 2,008 locations and saw an audience that was 60% female and 55% 21 and older. Reviews were horrible, but on the bright side the paying crowd did like what they got. Its Cinemascore was an A-.

Sleeper hit We're the Millers remained in over 3,000 theaters for an incredible seventh consecutive week and followed with an estimated $4.7M, dipping a mere 14%. The Warner Bros. hit has banked $138.2M to date and is headed north of $150M. Oscar hopeful The Butler grossed an estimated $4.3M, down just 22%, for a $106.5M cume for The Weinstein Co. Universal's actioner Riddick followed falling 46% to an estimated $3.7M and $37.2M overall.

Opening in limited release to strong results in ninth place was the IMAX 3D version of The Wizard of Oz which grossed an estimated $3M from 318 large screens for a potent $9,503 average. The classic film is celebrating its 75th anniversary and Warner Bros. scheduled a one-week stunt in theaters intended to help promote next week's Blu-ray release on October 1.

Rounding out the top ten was the Disney toon Planes which slipped a scant 8% to an estimated $2.9M boosting the sum to $86.5M.

A pair of critically-acclaimed films that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival enjoyed strong debuts in platform release ahead of wider play next weekend. Fox Searchlight unveiled the mature romantic comedy Enough Said starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles and bowed to an estimated $240,000 for a sensational $60,000 average. Enough expands to major markets across North America on Friday widening to around 200 total locations.

Oscar winner Ron Howard saw his latest directorial effort, the Formula One racing drama Rush, collect an estimated $200,000 from five locations for a solid $40,000 average. Universal hopes to use this momentum when it expands nationwide Friday into 2,200 theaters against three other new wide openers. Rush's budget was $38M and the pic was Howard's first independently-financed film in three decades.

More awards hopefuls will release in the weeks to follow including Gravity on October 4, Captain Phillips on October 11, and The Fifth Estate on October 18 making for a crowded fall box office for mature adults next month.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $72.2M which was even with last year when End of Watch debuted at number one with $13.2M; but down 30% from 2011 when The Lion King 3D stayed in the top spot with $21.9M.

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