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Riding his resurging popularity thanks to a string of well-liked action flicks, 59-year-old Liam Neeson added another number-one hit to his resume with the $20-million start of The Grey. The icy survival thriller rode Neeson’s name, strong marketing and surprisingly positive reviews and joins Taken and Unknown as left-corner winners for the Irish star. The opening is down from the starts of those two action offerings, but considering the R rating carried by The Grey, its gross is even more impressive.
Sporting the lowest second-weekend drop of the franchise, Underworld: Awakening collected another $12.5 million upping its domestic tally to $45.1 million and globally to a muscular $85.1 million. Beckinsale and 3D are proving to be a winning combination and this fourth installment will easily become the highest grossing of the bunch.
Katherine Heigl’s latest One for the Money was mostly in the green, debuting to a so-so $11.8 million, which was the lowest of any film headlined by the former Grey’s Anatomy star since she broke into film with sleeper hit Knocked Up in 2007.
The Top 101. The Grey - $20.0M (weekend)…$20.0M (gross)
Holding up quite well in fourth was Red Tails, which dipped 45 percent to $10.4 million. For a war flick with a largely African-American cast, the drop is notable, which indicates that there is good word of mouth in the right circles.
Disappointing in fifth was Summit’s Man on a Ledge, which was not able to differentiate itself from all the other action offerings in the top 10, jumping off with $8.3 million. Star Sam Worthington is not a proven headliner outside of action tentpoles and that showed in this this high-concept thriller.
Other notable performances this weekend included solid surges for The Descendants, The Artist and Hugo all of which are playing to their many Academy Award nominations. Fellow nominee Albert Nobbs did not fare quite as well in 245 showings, grossing just $773,000 and a poor $3,155 average.
Next weekend, three flicks that could not be more different will all compete for their piece of the proverbial pie. Family drama Big Miracle will pander to those who have moved on from the Beauty and the Beast re-release (though in just 1,900 theaters), found footage quasi-superhero movie Chronicle will invade 2,800 cinemas, and gothic horror flick The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe will spook audiences in 2,700.