Both Hugh Jackman and Chris Brown can sing and dance, but the man best known as Wolverine has the edge at this weekend’s box office.
“Prisoners” should top the box office with a debut of about $20 million, according to industry forecasts. The well-reviewed drama generated much buzz at the Toronto International Film Festival thanks largely to its pairing of Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. Jackman plays the father of a missing child and Gyllenhaal costars as a cop assigned to the case to find her.
Brown stars alongside Josh Holloway, aka Sawyer from TV’s “Lost,” in “Battle of the Year.” Most box-office prognosticators project the 3-D dance flick won’t do more than $10 million this weekend. The Los Angeles Times put the figure at $5 million.
In a 2010 interview with MTV News, Brown noted his admiration for the diverse acting careers of rappers T.I. and Common, as well as the rapper-to-actor transition of megastar Will Smith. “I didn’t just wanna do movies that had consistent dancing and singing,” he said of his career path. “I wanted to do stuff that pushes me as an actor at the end of the day.”
Gyllenhaal is similarly interested in new challenges. French Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve directed Gyllenhaal in another TIFF favorite, the doppelgänger-driven “Enemy,” before casting him alongside Jackman. “He offered me this film saying, ‘I know you can do this,’ ” Gyllenhaal recently told MTV News . “I went, ‘I’m going to trust this man and this relationship.’ ”
A majority of film critics embraced the gritty thriller. ” ‘Prisoners’ is the best police procedural since ‘Se7en,’ and it works as a grim, ugly companion piece to that film,” wrote HitFix‘s Drew McWeeny. The New Yorker‘s David Denby compared it to another David Fincher film, “Zodiac,” as well as Clint Eastwood’s double-Oscar-winning adaptation of “Mystic River.”
“Prisoners” enjoyed a “fresh” 81 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes going into the weekend, whereas “Battle of the Year” suffered from a “rotten” 10 percent critical average. Film Racket called the movie “so familiar that you half expect Julia Stiles and Channing Tatum to show up and start hoofing.” The New York Times called it “relentlessly boring.”
The box-office haul for “Battle of the Year” won’t be enough to beat last weekend’s champ, “Insidious: Chapter 2.” The horror sequel should drop to #2 in its second weekend with around $14 million. “Insidious: Chapter 2″ has already made nearly $50 million around the world — 10 times its $5 million budget. The 2011 original made $100 million on a $1.5 million budget.
Chris Hemsworth traded in Thor’s hammer for a race car in the critical fave “Rush,” which opens in just five theaters (in New York and Los Angeles) a week before the rest of the country gets to see it. Hemsworth’s fellow Avenger Mark Ruffalo will have a film in limited release this weekend as well: “Thanks for Sharing.” “The Girl Next Door” screenwriter Stuart Blumberg makes his directorial debut with the ensemble sex-addiction dramedy, which debuts in fewer than 300 theaters.
Finally, “The Wizard of Oz” will get the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” treatment when the 1939 MGM classic returns to theaters this weekend with a boost from 3-D and IMAX. “Oz” will be in roughly as many IMAX theaters, about 300, as “Top Gun 3D” was earlier this year.