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All competition got Taken 2 the cleaners by Liam Neeson and his return to action this weekend, which pulled in a huge $49.5 million, good enough for the third-highest October debut of all time.
The good will built up by the surprising success of Taken back in 2009, which brought in $145 million, meant that fans were eager to see Neeson kicking ass as agent Bryan Mills once more, even if it offered up more of the same.
Neeson has become a formidable action draw and and Taken 2 brings his number of 2012 top-spot debuts to two after The Grey. The 60-year-old was red hot overseas as well with the sequel raking in $67 million for an early global total of $116.5 million. Expect Taken 2 to out gross its predecessor on a worldwide level.
Holding on well in second after a beefy debut of its own, Hotel Transylvania fell by a little more than a third and added $27.1 million for a total of $76.7 million. It’s currently running $16 million ahead of Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Expanding after its platform release to commendable results in third was a cappella comedy Pitch Perfect, which essentially swapped its theater average for its gross, adding $14.8 million for $21.7 million. The inexpensive Universal property should hold on pretty well in the coming weeks.
Speaking of good holds, sci-fi mind bender Looper dipped by a 42 percent to $12.1 and has banked $40.2 million after two weeks. This drop is practically identical to that of Source Code, meaning if it performs similarly throughout October, should wind up north of $70 million by the end of its run.
The Top 10
1. Taken 2 - $49.5M (weekend)…$49.5M (gross)
2. Hotel Transylvania - $27.1M…$76.6M
3. Pitch Perfect - $14.8M…$21.7M
4. Looper - $12.1M…$40.2M
5. Frankenweenie - $11.4M…$11.4M
6. End of Watch - $4.0M…$32.8M
7. Trouble with the Curve - $3.8M…$29.7M
8. House at the End of the Street - $3.8M…$27.6M
9. The Master - $1.8M…$12.3M
10. Finding Nemo 3D - $1.6M…$39.0M
Finding little love in fifth was Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, which could only muster $11.4 million and a $3,798 average. Direct competition from another toon and the darker subject matter meant that the Disney pic could only rope in Burton diehards and slightly older family crowds. Whether Frankenweenie can hold on thanks to the Halloween season remains to be seen.
Next week five – yes five – very different films enter the market all aiming for a select demographic. Vying for more mature audiences (and those watching the early Oscar race) in 3,250 theaters is Argo, Ben Affleck’s third foray into directing, which has been getting rave early reviews. In 3,000 locations, and shooting for a teenaged audience, is mixed martial arts dramedy Here Comes the Boom with Kevin James.
In 2,500 theaters is Sinister aiming for fans of horror cinema, in 1,475 is the buzz-worthy ensemble dark comedy Seven Psychopaths and finally in 850 is Atlas Shrugged: Part II which should attack fans of the book and few others.