By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES Oct 7 Liam Neeson thriller "Taken
2" captured the No. 1 spot on movie box office charts over the
weekend with a brawny $50 million take from theaters in the
United States and Canada.
"Taken 2" stars Neeson as a former CIA agent kidnapped
during a vacation in Istanbul. The movie added $55 million from
some 50 international markets for a global opening of $117
million including Korea where it opened earlier, distributor
20th Century Fox said.
The strong debut for "Taken 2" pushed last weekend's winner,
family flick "Hotel Transylvania," to second place. The movie
about a hotel run by Dracula earned $26.3 million from Friday
through Sunday, according to studio estimates compiled by
Reuters. Comedy "Pitch Perfect" snagged the No. 3 slot with
North American (U.S. and Canadian) sales for "Taken 2" were
more than double t he original film's, which opened in January
2009 with $24.7 million and ultimately grossed a surprising $227
million around the world. The movie lifted Neeson to the ranks
of Hollywood action stars, leading to roles in movies such as
"Clash of the Titans" and "The Grey."
"This so exceeded our expectations going in," said Chris
Aronson, executive vice president of domestic distribution at
20th Century Fox, noting that Fox had anticipated something "in
the mid-30s range" after what he called a "sluggish market"
since the summer.
"The come in at $50 million is really remarkable, and a
testament to this character that Liam has created," Aronson told
The executive noted that the audience was almost evenly
split male-female, and also played strongly across age groups,
with more than half over the age of 25.
Fox co-financed the film with Europa Corp, the company run
by "Taken" writer and director Luc Besson, and contributed $36
million to its budget, Aronson said. Reports have put the total
budget at about $50 million.
"Hotel Transylvania" won the weekend battle for
pre-Halloween family filmgoers, leaving new Walt Disney Co
movie "Frankenweenie" in fifth place. Through two
weekends, "Transylvania" has grossed $76 million in the domestic
"Pitch Perfect," about a college all-girls singing group
moved up the charts as it expanded nationwide following an
impressive limited opening last weekend. The movie stars Anna
Kendrick and Brittany Snow.
"There's a lot to be said about this little engine that
could," said Nikki Rocco, president of domestic distribution for
Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp, noting that the
film only cost $17 million.
"It's on the road to very nice profitability for Universal,"
she said, adding that the studio expected "word of mouth, which
we know is great" would help the film develop legs beyond its
core, targeted audience, which, Rocco said, "loves it."
Rounding out the charts, time-travel movie "Looper" earned
fourth place with $12.2 million domestically. Sales for the
movie starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt reached
$40.3 million for the two-week run.
Disney's "Frankenweenie" grossed $11.5 million at domestic
theaters. The black-and-white stop-motion film directed by Tim
Burton tells the story of a boy who brings his beloved dog back
to life using Frankenstein-like science. The movie cost $39
million to produce.
News Corp's 20th Century Fox studio distributed
"Taken 2." Sony Corp's film studio released "Hotel Transylvania"
and "Looper." "Pitch Perfect" was distributed by Universal
Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp.