Moviegoers were “taken” with Liam Neeson once again over the weekend.
“Taken 2″ ruled the box office with a strong $50 million debut, more than double the opening weekend for the 2009 original. A surprise hit, the first “Taken” movie cast Neeson in an action hero role, kicking off a string of similarly rough-and-tumble hits for the 60-year-old Oscar-nominated Irishman. “Unknown” debuted with $30 million roughly two years after “Taken” stormed the box office. “The Grey” collected $25 million when it debuted in January of this year.
Neeson recently told MTV News he was initially “very wary” about doing a sequel to “Taken,” which topped the box office during its Super Bowl weekend debut and eventually made $145 million domestically. But the opening numbers for “Taken 2″ (at the highest end of industry projections) prove he ultimately made a wise business choice, even if he doesn’t see himself returning for a third. Critics panned the eventual finished product (just 19 percent positive on movie review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes), but theatergoers assigned “Taken 2″ a “B+” CinemaScore once they saw it.
“Taken 2″ wasn’t the only success story at the box office over the weekend. “Pitch Perfect” did solid business as it expanded into 2,770 theaters, grossing $14.7 million for a two week total of $21.6 million. Described by more than one movie reporter as “Glee” meets “Bring It On,” “Pitch Perfect” sat at 76 percent on Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer” at press time.
Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” was even more well-reviewed, boasting an 85 percent score, but that didn’t help the Disney flick at the box office. The latest stop-motion feature from the man behind “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” based on a short film he put together in 1984, couldn’t overcome the staying power of the similarly Halloween-friendly “Hotel Transylvania.” “Frankenweenie” mustered up just $11.5 million to land at #5 while last weekend’s #1 movie was #2 with $26.3 million; Adam Sandler’s 3-D “Hotel Transylvania” has made $76 million since it was released 10 days ago.
Overall, the box office was up 46 percent versus the same weekend last year.