‘Taken 2’ Top Movie for Second Weekend With $21.9 Million

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“Taken 2,” a sequel to the 2009 Liam Neeson action film, was the top-grossing movie at U.S. and Canadian cinemas for a second weekend, collecting $21.9 million in sales for News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox.

“Taken 2” held off five new releases, including Ben Affleck’s “Argo,” based on the true story of a CIA plan to rescue U.S. diplomats trapped in Iran during the 1979 revolution, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. “Argo,” from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., had sales of $19.5 million.

With the industry’s awards season approaching, studios are beginning to release movies such as “Argo” that have been touted by critics as possible Oscar contenders. This coming weekend, Fox will begin a limited release of the drama “The Sessions” and Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” opens on Nov. 9.

“Hollywood is starting to get into Oscar mode,” Gitesh Pandya, editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com, said in a telephone interview. Once “the summer is over, the studios start rolling out their Oscar hopefuls.”

In “Argo,” Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a real-life CIA operative who entered Iran at the height of the anti-American revolution to rescue six diplomats who escaped the takeover of the U.S. Embassy. With the help of the Canadian government, Mendez disguised the diplomats as members of a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a sci-fi film called “Argo.”

Oscar Buzz

The ruse included setting up a fake movie production company and taking out ads for the film in Hollywood trade publications. Alan Arkin and John Goodman co-star as the makeup director and producer who helped make the scheme work.

Affleck directed and co-produced “Argo,” which has been mentioned by critics as a possible nominee for Oscars, including best picture, best actor and best director. It was expected to have opening-weekend sales of $15.3 million, the forecast of researcher Boxoffice.com.

Sales Potential

“There’s a lot of potential business still piled up waiting to come in,” said Pandya. “This one has the potential to possibly get to that $100 million mark by the end of its run.”

“Taken 2” stars Neeson as a retired CIA agent who uses his deadly skills to rescue his wife after she is kidnapped. The original film, released in 2009, generated $226.8 million in worldwide ticket sales. Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace reprise their roles in the new picture, which was expected to register sales of $23 million, according to Boxoffice.com.

“Sinister,” Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.’s tale about supernatural terror, was third in its debut with $18 million. Ethan Hawke plays a crime writer who uncovers the secret behind the deaths of his home’s previous inhabitants. Vincent D’Onofrio and James Ransone co-star.

‘Hotel Transylvania’

Sony Corp.’s “Hotel Transylvania” fell to fourth from second with $17.2 million. The animated film features the voice of Adam Sandler as Dracula, who 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.

“Here Comes the Boom,” also from Sony, opened in fifth with $11.8 million. Kevin James plays a middle-age, former college wrestler who moonlights as a mixed-martial-arts fighter. Salma Hayek and Henry Winkler also star.

Two other new films finished in the Top 12.

The crime comedy “Seven Psychopaths” took in $4.2 million for CBS Corp.’s film unit, finishing ninth, while “Atlas Shrugged: Part II” finished 11th with $1.7 million.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films climbed 57 percent to $120.7 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said, registering a third-straight gain.

Domestic film sales this year have risen 3.8 percent to $8.42 billion, with attendance up 2.6 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales from Oct. 12 through Oct. 14.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
 1 TAKEN 2            $21.9    3,706   $5,902  -56    $86.1    2
 2 ARGO                19.5    3,232    6,020   --     19.5    1
 3 SINISTER            18.0    2,527    7,126   --     18.0    1
 4 HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA  17.2    3,375    5,109  -36    102.1    3
 5 HERE COMES THE BOOM 11.8    3,014    3,921   --     11.8    1
 6 PITCH PERFECT        9.3    2,787    3,325  -38     36.0    3
 7 FRANKENWEENIE        7.1    3,005    2,348  -38     22.1    2
 8 LOOPER               6.2    2,605    2,381  -49     51.3    3
 9 SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS    4.2    1,480    2,821   --      4.2    1
10 WALLFLOWER           2.2      726    2,962   37      6.1    4
11 ATLAS SHRUGGED II    1.7    1,012    1,725   --      1.7    1
12 END OF WATCH         1.7    1,551    1,097  -57     36.4    4

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $120.7 $77.0 +57

Year-to-date Revenue

2012 2011 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $8,421 $8,114 +3.8 Year-to-date Attendance: +2.6%
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