Neeson Gets Revenge as Fox’s ‘Taken 2’ Leads Weekend Sales

“Taken 2,” a sequel to the 2009 action film featuring Liam Neeson, opened as the top-grossing film at theaters in the U.S. and Canada, collecting $49.5 million in ticket sales for News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox.

Among the weekend’s other new films, Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” was fifth with $11.4 million in sales for Walt Disney Co., researcher Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Taken 2” is the third Fox film to open in first place this year, following the science-fiction tale “Chronicle” and the animated “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” Before this weekend, the studio was ranked fifth in 2012 domestic revenue with $860.9 million, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. Sony Corp. is first with $1.35 billion.

“It’s pretty amazing results for Liam,” Jeff Bock, an analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., said of the film in a telephone interview. The first version “had legs that nobody expected,” said Bock. “Fox has a veritable franchise on their hands here” as the film had the third highest-grossing debut of any film in October.

In “Taken 2,” Neeson returns as retired CIA agent Bryan Mills, drawing on his expertise in weapons and spycraft to rescue his wife, who is kidnapped. The film ties into the first movie as the kidnappers are linked to those Mills battled to rescue his daughter in the original version, which took in $226.8 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen reprise their roles in the new picture, which was expected to take in $49 million, the forecast of Box Office Mojo.

Monster Hotel

“Hotel Transylvania,” from Sony, fell to second from first with $27.1 million in sales. In the animated film, featuring the voice of Adam Sandler, Dracula invites famous monsters to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. The gathering is complicated by the arrival of a human who falls for the vampire’s daughter. The movie has taken in $76.7 million since it was released on Sept. 28.

“Pitch Perfect” was third with $14.8 million for Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures after expanding to more theaters. The film stars Anna Kendrick as a college student who joins an a capella singing group. They find success after she pushes to try new arrangements. Brittany Snow and Anna Camp co-star.

The weekend performance of “Pitch Perfect” is “a huge score for Universal,” said Bock. “A lot of people are calling it the next ‘Bridesmaids.’ The word of mouth is really great.”

Time Travel

The time-travel tale “Looper,” also from Sony, fell to fourth from second with $12.1 million. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hit man working for a mob that operates in the future, when time travel has become possible. To avoid prosecution, the mob sends victims back in time to be killed by a special team of assassins. Gordon-Levitt’s character is assigned to kill his future self. Bruce Willis plays the older version of Levitt’s character.

Burton’s animated “Frankenweenie,” this week’s fifth-place finisher, tells the story of a boy who uses his knowledge of science to bring his dog back to life. It is inspired by the Frankenstein horror tale and features the voices of Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau and Martin Short.

The police drama “End of Watch” fell to sixth from third with $4 million. The film, from Open Road Pictures, stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as Los Angeles police officers who run afoul of a vicious gang. The film has taken in $32.9 million since it opened on Sept. 21.

Curve Balls

Clint Eastwood’s “Trouble with the Curve” from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., was seventh with sales of $3.8 million. Eastwood plays aging professional baseball scout Gus Lobel, who tries to keep his job while battling failing eyesight and a trend toward computer-based scouting. His daughter, played by Amy Adams, tries to help by accompanying Lobel on an important scouting trip. Justin Timberlake co-stars as a washed-up pitcher who is attracted to the young woman.

Ticket sales rose for a second straight weekend, providing studios with more good news after four consecutive declining year-over-year comparisons, according to Last month, Ben Mogil, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., cut his estimate for fourth-quarter ticket sales, saying he expects a 3 percent rise. That’s down from an earlier forecast of 5 percent to 6 percent.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films climbed 56 percent to $132.7 million from the year-earlier period, said. Domestic film sales this year have risen 3.2 percent to $8.24 billion, with attendance up 2 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales from Oct. 5 to Oct. 7.

                    Rev.             Avg./    Pct.   Total
   Movie           (mln) Theaters  Theater    Chg.   (mln)   Wks
 1 TAKEN 2         $49.5    3,661  $13,525     --    $49.5    1
 2 TRANSYLVANIA     27.1    3,352    8,071    -36     76.7    2
 3 PITCH PERFECT    14.8    2,770    5,360    188     21.7    2
 4 LOOPER           12.1    2,993    4,048    -42     40.2    2
 5 FRANKENWEENIE    11.4    3,005    3,798     --     11.4    1
 6 END OF WATCH      4.0    2,370    1,689    -49     32.9    3
 7 TROUBLE W/ CURVE  3.8    3,003    1,275    -47     29.7    3
 8 HOUSE AT THE END  3.8    2,720    1,381    -47     27.6    3
 9 THE MASTER        1.9      864    2,155    -31     12.3    4
10 FINDING NEMO      1.6    1,746      930    -60     39.0    4
11 WALLFLOWER        1.6      221    7,088     42      3.3    3
12 RESIDENT EVIL     1.2    1,361      851    -61     41.0    4

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $132.7 $85.1 +56

Year-to-date Revenue

2012 2011 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $8,244 $7,991 +3.2 Year-to-date Attendance: 2.0%
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