Box Office: ‘Taken 2’ has a monster $50 million weekend

Contrary to popular opinion, box office success is a marathon, not a sprint for most Hollywood movie studios. So, one week you can suffer one of the worst openings of the year and the next you can have one of the biggest non-summer openings of the year. Welcome to October for 20th Century Fox.  Last weekend, “Won’t Back Down” had a disastrous $2.6 million opening.  This weekend, “Taken 2” exploded for a very impressive $50 million three-day cume.

“Taken 2” is the sequel to the January 2009 surprise hit that grossed a shocking $145 million domestically.  Critics were actually less kind to “Taken 2” than the original, but  audiences didn’t seem to care. The tease of watching Liam Neeson go after the bad guys once more was just too tempting.  It will be interesting to see if the thriller can match its predecessor’s domestic gross or if it falls off quickly.

Dropping to second place was Sony Pictures Animation’s unexpected blockbuster, “Hotel Transylvania.”  The Adam Sandler-voiced animated comedy pulled in another $26.3 million for fantastic $75.9 million in just 10 days.  

Jumping to 2,770 theaters in third was Universal Pictures’ “Pitch Perfect.”  The Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson comedy had a fantastic debut last week making $5.1 million on just 335 screens for an amazing $15,371 per screen.  Unfortunately, the expansion over this weekend wasn’t as potent. “Perfect” grossed just $14.7 million over the three-day. Universal will hope that word of mouth will continue to fuel interest, but it’s hard to see “Perfect” turning into the sleeper hit many thought it might be.  “Perfect” has grossed $21.6 million to date.

“Looper” dropped to fourth place with another $12.2 million and $40 million to date.  The acclaimed Rian Johnson Sci-Fi thriller should eventually end up with a satisfying gross north of $60 million.

Making a disappointing debut in the fifth slot is Walt Disney Studio’s “Frankenweenie.” The Tim Burton-directed stop-motion animated film has earned strong reviews, but Disney clearly miscalculated on just how big the competing “Hotel Transylvania” would be.  Fighting for the same demo, “Frankenweenie” found just $11.5 million. That’s significant less than the $19.1 million “The Corpse Bride” grossed in its wide expansion in 2005 and it is also under the $14 million “ParaNorman” underachieved with in August. The latter has been able to find $54 million domestically though, so Disney and Burton will hope more families will take the time to discover the flick in the weeks to come.

New movies opening Friday include “Argo,” “Sinister,” “Seven Psychopaths” and “Here Comes the Boom.”

Box office actuals are released on Monday.