‘Taken 2’ to Take over the Box Office!

ALTA much needed boost last weekend sets the marketplace up for a second solid weekend at the nation’s theaters as positive momentum returns to the box office.

Liam Neeson returns as kick ass, take no prisoners mega-dad Bryan Mills who will wreak havoc on his adversaries both on screen and in theaters with Twentieth Century Fox’s Taken 2. This PG-13 action crime drama turns the tables as Mills and his wife are kidnapped by the brother of the man who took his daughter hostage in the original film. This time his daughter has to step up and help her parents escape the clutches of the man hell-bent on avenging his death at the hands of Mills. The first film was an unexpected hit debuting on January 30, 2009 with a relatively modest $24.7 million but took on a life of its own generating great word-of-mouth and took in about six times its debut earning $145 million in North American revenue. Though most estimates anticipate a debut in the mid-$30 million range, we think it could go much higher and the potential to nearly double the debut gross of the original is within the realm of possibility.

Second place could be a battleground with two family animated Halloween friendly films expected to earn in the $22 to $25 million range. The newcomer to the party is Disney’s well-reviewed Frankenweenie, the brainchild of the wildly imaginative Tim Burton who brings one his earliest projects to its full potential on the big screen. The PG-rated film boasts a stellar voice cast, stunning visuals and the added punch of 3-D and IMAX and all this will add up to a solid debut and long term success for the film.

Sony Pictures Animation’s PG-rated Hotel Transylvania in 3-D last weekend posted the biggest debut ever for a September release earning a whopping $42.5 million. This weekend will be another strong one for the film, but in spite of a more competitive landscape it should still prove to be a solid performer. Through Thursday the film has already earned close to $50 million and a great second weekend performance will kick that up into the $70 million range by Sunday night after just 10 days of release. Adam Sandler and Kevin James lead the voice cast in this tale of a high-end resort operated by Count Dracula (Sandler) that is discovered by a human boy who falls in love with the Count’s daughter.

Universal’s PG-13 music-themed comedy Pitch Perfect has already sung a box office hit tune last weekend posting an impressive sixth place debut in just 335 theaters and is poised for a strong first wide release with an expected $15 million plus. The “buzz building” strategy has certainly paid off and this expected solid second weekend performance in 2,770 theaters will validate the decision to go with the platform release pattern. A likeable and talented cast including the ubiquitous Anna Kendrick (also in End of Watch) makes this a top choice for females under 25 looking for some fun at the multi-plex.

Sony’s R-rated time travel hit man movie Looper starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis will enjoy a second weekend in the top five with a gross in the low teens. The super-stylized and visually stunning film is the vision of Rian Johnson who also directed the modern crime noir story Brick and also The Brother’s Bloom. Great word-of-mouth and a head scratching premise that requires repeat viewing have made this one of the best films of the fall movie season. $40 million in revenues awaits the film by the end of the weekend after just 10 days in theaters.

Another top choice this weekend will be Open Road’s End of Watch which enters its third weekend amongst high praise from both audiences and critics alike. The gritty, intense police drama stars Jake Gyllenhaal and a scene-stealing Michael Pena as two cops in Los Angeles who are targeted by members of a drug cartel. Training Day scribe David Ayer directs this terrific R-rated drama from his own script.

This should prove to be another strong weekend at the movies with a number of great films to choose from representing virtually every genre.