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Weekend Box Office: Taken 3 On Top with Near-Record Opening

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By Chris Kavan - 01/11/15 at 08:56 PM CT

It was a banner weekend for an action movie franchise, even if it didn't quite lift the box office to new heights. The overall box office was down 8% compared to last year, as people wait with baited breath to see which Academy-Award Nominated films they need to see before the big awards show (FYI - look our for the two-part announcement this Thursday morning). That always provides a nice bump - but until then, things are going the way most January weekends go - somewhat slow.

1) TAKEN 3

It seems the third time is indeed still the charm as the Liam Neeson-led Taken 3 easily took the number one spot at the box office with an impressive $40.4 million opening. How good is that? It's the second-best January opening in history, falling short of only last year's Ride Along ($41.5 million). It fell short of Taken 2 ($49 million) but was higher than Neeson's last big action film Non-Stop ($28.9 million) as well as topping January release Lone Survivor ($37.8 million). The film drew in a mostly male (54%) and older (65% over 25) audience. They awarded it a "B+" Cinemascore (the same as Taken 2) and if it follows the same track as that film, Taken 3 should top $100 million and wind up around the $110 million mark.


The civil rights drama following Martin Luther King, Jr. and the famous march in Alabama drew in modest crowd for a second place $11.2 million. That was a bit lower than most expectations and fell far short of The Butler's opening ($24.6 million). But given the subject matter, the audience is likely to support this over the long run, especially if it gets some Oscar love - it already has the love of critics (98% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (a rare "A+" Cinemascore) alike - so now all it needs is a little push. A total north of $50 million is still likely at this point.


Disney's all-star cast musical dipped 48% and fell to third with $9.75 million. That helped it cross the $100 million mark for a new total of $105.2 million - more than doubling its $50 million budget. The movie is going to at least cross the $125 million milestone before it ends its run.


After three weeks at number one, Five Armies took a nearly 57% tumbled and dropped into 4th place with $9.43 million. That brings the Hobbit finale to a new total of $236.5 million. While it started off strong, it's now looking like Five Armies is going to struggle to match Desolation of Smaug's $258.4 million total and may wind up the lowest-grossing (domestically at least) of the three Hobbit films. Time will tell - it's going to be a close race.


Also joining the $100 million club over the weekend was Angelina Jolie's Unbroken. The film dropped to fifth place with $8.36 million (down 54%) and raised its total to $101.6 million - in the end it will be able to double its $65 million budget and should wind up over $115 million by the time it exits theaters.

Outside the top five: The Imitation Game continued to show impressive numbers. It expanded by 812 theaters (now in 1566 theaters total) and held on to nearly all its audience, down a very light 2% and it still managed to jump from 7th to 6th place with $7.62 million for a new total of $40.8 million. It also continues to outpace The King's Speech through the same amount of time and some awards recognition should only continue to bolster its numbers.

Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film, Inherent Vice expanded by 629 theaters and jumped over 1000% from 28th to 11th place with $2.9 million but that was well short of the director's last film, The Master, which made $4.4 million on its expansion.

Next week's big films are going to be the family-friendly Paddington, the hacking thriller Blackhat and the Kevin Hart comedy The Wedding Ringer along with the nationwide expansion of the well-received Clint Eastwood war drama American Sniper. It's going to be a packed weekend - we'll see who comes out on top, and whether Academy Award Nominations do anything to shape the box office.


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