Liam Neeson's finale as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent who likes to beat up bad guys, in Taken 3 ran away to nab the top spot.
The historical drama Selma--directed by Ava DuVernay landed in the 2nd spot in its wide release bow. Disney's film adaptation of the classic 1980s Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical Into the Woods and the Angelina Jolie-directed biopic"Unbroken" did well during the frame as well.
Pamela McClintock of THR:
Closing out the franchise in style, Liam Neeson's Taken 3 earned $40.4 million from 3,594 theaters in its North American debut, topping the box office and scoring the second-best January opening of all time, not accounting for inflation.
The action movie has earned another $41 million overseas for an early global total of $81.4 million.
Domestically, the $48 million action film, produced by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp and distributed by Fox, narrowly bested the $40.1 million earned by Cloverfield in 2008. Last year's Ride Along remains the record holder with $41.5 million.
Taken 3, unseating The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, didn't match the $49.5 million debut of Taken 2 in October 2012, but that film faced far less competition. Audiences gave the latest outing a B+ CinemaScore, while males made up 54 percent of ticket buyers.
The threequel reteams Neeson with castmembers Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace, and introduces Forest Whitaker to the franchise. Olivier Megaton returns in the director's chair, while Besson and Robert Mark Kamen once again wrote the script. This time out, ex-covert operative Bryan Mills (Neeson) avenges the death of his ex-wife.
Ava DuVernay's Golden Globe nominee Selma came in No. 2 as it expanded nationwide following a limited Christmas release. The civil rights drama, starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., grossed $11.2 million from 2,157 locations for an early total of $13.5 million. The critically acclaimed movie currently sports a 98 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.'
A strong crop of holiday holdovers continued to do strong business, with both Into the Woods and Unbroken jumping the $100 million mark domestically.
Into the Woods, also a Golden Globe best-picture nominee, came in No. 3 with $9.8 million from 2,823 theaters, pushing its domestic total to $105.3 million for Disney and director Rob Marshall. Overseas, the musical earned $7.6 million from 15 territories for an early foreign total of $15.3 million and global cume of $120.6 million. (Disney also celebrated Big Hero 6 jumping the $400 million mark worldwide.)
From New Line and MGM, Peter Jackson's final Hobbit installment followed at No. 4 with $9.4 million from 3,402 locations. Through Sunday, the tentpole has grossed $236.5 domestically and north of $700 million worldwide.
Angelina Jolie's Unbroken (the Universal movie was snubbed by the Globes, but is considered a likely Oscar player) grossed $8.4 million from 3,301 theaters for a North American total of $101.6 million. The movie took in $5.7 million internationally from 24 markets, including a $1.5 million debut in France, where moviegoing slowed in Paris because of the devastating terrorist attacks. Unbroken has earned a total of $14 million overseas for an early worldwide total of $115.6 million.
The Imitation Game, another Globe contender, continues to impress as it moved up the chart to No. 6, earning $7.6 million from 1,566 locations for an outstanding North American total of $40.7 million for The Weinstein Co. and star Benedict Cumberbatch.
Fox's family film Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb followed at No. 7, earning $6.7 million from 3,371 theaters in its fourth weekend for a domestic total of $99.5 million. Annie, also in its fourth weekend and playing in 2,856 theaters, placed No. 8 with $4.9 million, bringing its domestic cume to $79.4 million.
Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, released by Relativity in the U.S., fell a steep 68 percent in its second weekend to come in No. 9 with $4.8 million from 2,602 locations. Horror films often see big drops, although the first Woman in Black only fell 51 percent in its second outing. The sequel's domestic total through Sunday is $22.3 million.
Like Selma, Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice expanded nationwide this weekend after a limited play over the holidays, although it is only playing in 645 locations. The film fell outside the top 10, grossing a muted $2.9 million for a cume of $4.5 million.
Among other players in the awards race, although not necessarily the Globes, Clint Eastwood's American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, continued to dazzle in its third outing. The movie grossed $555,000 from four theaters, putting its average at a mighty $138,629 and domestic total at $3.2 million. Warner Bros. expands Sniper nationwide Jan. 16 following Academy Award nominations Jan. 15.
Elsewhere, Sony's The Interview continued to fall off at the box office, not a surprise, considering its availability on VOD (also, the comedy's theater count has dropped from 581 locations to 492 locations). Rentrak reports that the controversial comedy fell 64 percent to $388,000 for a domestic total of $5.7 million. It has made far more on VOD, or north of $31 million.
Next Up: Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures release the techno thriller "Blackhat".
"Thor" star Chris Hemsworth plays a convict who leads a team of American and Chinese computer specialists who hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta.
The comedy The Wedding Ringer sees Kevin Hart star as a charismatic guy who provides best man services for socially
challenged guys who can't get somebody to agree to stand by them on the
day of their wedding. Josh Gad
plays a groom-to-be who finds himself in that situation. Trouble is,
he has fabricated not just the best man's name but nine groomsmen as
well. He then seeks out Jimmy’s services to carry out the charade.
The live-action meets CG animated feature "Paddington" arrives. “Bunny and the Bull” and “The Mighty Boosh” director Paul King wrote
the adapted script set in modern times and helmed the film which
follows the curious but polite young bear who travels from darkest Peru
to London’s Paddington station where he’s taken in by an English family
Based on neuroscientist and author Lisa Genova's debut novel--Still Alice follows Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), a fiercely independent 50-year-old Harvard University psychology professor at the height of her career. She soon begins to notice lapses in her memory and receives a
diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's Disease She soon must come to terms with
it and the ways in which it will change her life.
The Clint Eastwood-directed biopic "American Sniper" goes wide. The film is based upon U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's autobiography--Jason Dean Hall wrote the adapted script about Texas native Kyle (Bradley Cooper)
who came to record the highest number of sniper kills (255) for an
American. The book is a frank first-person account and includes
passages from his wife who slowly watches her husband’s affection
turn from her to his job. Tragically, this true American hero was
killed by a fellow veteran at a shooting range in February 2013.