Liam Neeson returned as kick ass, take no prisoners mega-dad Bryan Mills who wreaked 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 anticipated a debut in the mid-$30 million range, it reached $50 million in U.S. theaters.
Second place was expected to 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, but it came in fifth place with $11.5 million.
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 was another strong one for the film taking in $26.3M against a tiny 38% drop; in spite of a more competitive landscape it still proves to be a solid performer. On Thursday the film had already earned close to $50 million and a great second weekend performance will kick that up to $76 million 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.
Sony’s R-rated time travel hit man movie Looper starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis enjoyed a second weekend in the top five with $12.2 million. 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. $40.3 million in revenues awaits the film by the end of the weekend after just 10 days in theaters.
Another top choice this weekend was Open Road’s End of Watch which enters its third weekend amongst high praise from both audiences and critics alike, though the film didn’t crack the top five. 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.
It proved to be another terrific weekend at the movies with a number of great films to choose from representing virtually every genre.