Seems we were all taken…again…by Liam Neeson’s Taken 3, the conclusion to the now 7-year old Taken franchise; a huge catalyst in the improbable reinvention of Liam Neeson as Action Movie Superstar! Proving that audiences perhaps care less about critics than ever before, the third and final entry in the series dominated the weekend box office, ending the three-week run of The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, and grossing $39.2 million dollars in its first three days.
As Oscar hopefuls Selma and Inherent Vice moved into wide release, Taken 3 now ranks as the third-largest January opening of all time, behind 2014’s Ride Along ($41.5 million) and 2008’s Cloverfield (40.5 million) and fifth largest when adjusted for inflation behind the 1997 re-release of Star Wars, Cloverfield, Ride Along, and Black Hawk Down.
With its 11% TomatoMeter, no pre-screening for critics, and overall ludicrous nature of the Taken franchise in general, how is this…by more than a three-to-one margin, the movie most people wanted to see this weekend?
Already banking more than $51 million overseas, Taken 3 has come flying out of the gate with a worldwide gross of $90.6 million, nearly doubling the film’s $48 million production budget. Are we sure the still awesomely named director of these last two Taken films, Olivier Megaton, won’t re-work that contract for a Taken 4?
While a large improvement over Taken‘s opening grosses in 2008 ($24 million), Taken 2 opened with nearly $50 million domestic in October 2012, coming to rest with $139.9 million domestic and $376 million globally. Taken 3 just piques people’s interests I suppose. For films playing in wide release, Taken 3 more than doubled the per screen average of the film which finished as the weekend’s runner-up, Selma.
Ava DuVernay’s Selma, mired in a controversy over the depiction of race relations in a Lyndon Baines Johnson presidency and a befuddling Oscar campaign where Paramount Pictures seems to only now be making sure their film is seen by as many folks as possible, expanded from 22 screens to nearly 2,200. While the attendance was solid, Selma underwhelmed most expectations, banking $11.3 million in its first big release weekend. Comparisons are being made to last year’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler ($24.6 million on 2,933 screens) when comparing dollars and receipts on Selma, but The Butler was a summer release, had a massive amount of stunt casting, and carried a different look and feel than this more organic, down-to-earth, and humble offering.
For those who believe box office does play a role in Oscar nominations and potential success on Oscar Sunday, look no further than the quiet juggernaut that Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game is becoming. Quiet like a mouse, Game has rolled up more than $40.4 million dollars and only shed 7% of its previous week’s audience. Seven weeks out, audiences are still just finding this film and The Weinstein Company continue adding theaters, with the film chugging right along. Though it missed out on winning Golden Globes on Sunday, the film landed 9 BAFTA nominations and could be poised for a big nomination haul on Thursday morning.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is just $3.6 million away from becoming North America’s biggest grossing film of 2014 and may already be there by the time you read this. Guardians of the Galaxy hung in for as long as it could, but despite being the lowest grossing film in the Hunger Games franchise thus far, Mockingjay -Part 1 will win the 2014 box office crown.
Horror film The Woman In Black 2 faded into darkness with a disastrous 69% decline in its second weekend. Typically, the first weekend of the new year offers the first horror film of the year (almost always not shown to critics ahead of time, by the way…) and this year was no different. This sequel in name only, Woman In Black 2 will likely gross little more than half of the Daniel Radcliffe-led 2012 film ($54.3 million).
As I complete this sentence, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb will have grossed more than $100 million domestically. Finishing the weekend with a 24-day haul of $99.5 million, the Museum franchise has grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide and more than $500 million domestic. And…congratulations to Rob Marshall’s Into The Woods and Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, as both films cruise past the $100 million milestone in domestic ticket sales.
Elsewhere, Inherent Vice landed just about $1 million short of the Top 10, expanding from 16 locations to 645 sites and scoring a modest $4,300 per screen average and $2.8 million. The total cumulative rests at $4.4 million over five weekends. As expected, audiences are not really sure what to make of Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest and the film is going to need a big showing with Oscar on Thursday to keep it relevant in the conversation.
Next weekend, four films open or expand wide and there is a massive hit already waiting to explode.
Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper has played to packed houses night after night in its four locations – two screens in New York, one in Los Angeles, and one in Dallas. Those four screens, the only venues the film has been exhibited since Christmas Day, has accounted for domestic box office of $3.2 million. Building off a heart-wrenching ad campaign that has won praise from a massive number of industry execs and film bloggers, reviewers, etc, Sniper is all but guaranteed to give Eastwood his biggest wide-release opening of his entire career.
Trying to roadblock American Sniper‘s pending trip to #1, Michael Mann’s cyber-crime thriller Blackhat opens, starring Chris Hemsworth. The Wedding Ringer tosses Kevin Hart and Josh Gad together in a raunchy, rom-com where Hart serves as Gad’s hired best man for his upcoming nuptials. Counterprogramming the three R-rated films opening on Friday, the massive British hit, and two-time BAFTA-nominated Paddington gives us a new potential film franchise for kids and families to embrace. The film arrives stateside already grossing more than $109 million internationally.
The Top 10 Grossing Films for the Week Ending January 11, 2015
1. Taken 3 (20th Century Fox)
$39.2 million, $39.2 million total, 1 weeks, NEW (3,594 screens).
2. Selma (Paramount)
$11.3 million, $13.6 million total, 3 weeks, +1,686% (2,179 screens).
3. Into the Woods (Buena Vista)
$9.6 million, $105.1 million total, 3 weeks, -49% (2,833 screens).
4. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Warner Bros.)
$9.4 million, $236.5 million total, 4 weeks, -57% (3,402 screens)
5. Unbroken (Universal)
$8.2 million, $101.4 million total, 3 weeks, -55% (3,301 screens).
6. The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company)
$7.2 million, $40.4 million total, 7 weeks, -7% (1,566 screens).
7. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (20th Century Fox)
$6.7 million, $99.5 million total, 4 weeks, -54% (3,371 screens).
8. Annie (Sony Pictures)
$4.8 million, $79.3 million total, 4 weeks, -58% (2,856 screens).
9. The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death (Relativity)
$4.6 million, $22.2 million total, 2 weeks, -69% (2,602 screens).
10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (Lionsgate)
$3.8 million, $329.5 million total, 8 weeks, -50% (2,063 screens).
Domestic and international figures are actualized on Monday afternoons and courtesy of BoxOfficeMojo.com and other news outlets.