Box Office: Liam Neeson’s ‘The Grey’ has a colorful debut at No. 1 Friday

Liam Neeson has had quite a bit of success the past few years with January and February action flicks.  “Taken” became an early blockbuster in 2009 and “Unknown” did solid business almost 12 months ago. That was one reason why new distributor Open Road wanted to open Joe Carnahan’s “The Grey” this weekend.  And it appears to have worked.  The wilderness tale found solid reviews and $6.5 million on Friday.  “The Grey” should gross between $17-18 million for the weekend which would be a positive start for the adult demoed thriller. 

Debuting in the second slot is the Katherine Heigl action comedy “One For the Money” with $4.1 million.  The Lionsgate release offered discounted tickets through Groupon and Living Social, but its unclear how much that affected the film’s grosses.  “Money” could end up with $12-13 million for the three-day. That’s just below the debut of Heigl’s “Life as We Know It” in October of 2010.  That romantic comedy actually had a solid multiple and grossed $53 million overall domestically. Considering “Money” currently has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes its hard to see that sort of word of mouth this time around.

Last week’s top flick, “Underworld Awakening,” dropped to third with another $3.4 million and $36 million in must 7 days.  The 3-D horror thriller could find itself with another $12 million by EOD Sunday.

Fourth place went to LucasFilm’s “Red Tails.”  The admirable WWII story found another $2.8 million on Friday for $26.1 million in its first week.  George Lucas, who produced the Anthony Hemingway picture, spent $58 million of his own money to finance “Red Tails,” but he’s unlikely to ever break even on it and he doesn’t seem to mind either.

Summit Entertainment’s “Man On A Ledge” barely rounded out the top five with $2.5 million and, at best, an estimated $6-7 million for the weekend. 

Look for complete weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.