Weekend Box Office: Liam Neeson has Taken the box office

A film that hit the UK last Autumn has just topped the US box office. How does that work? Liam Neeson, and Taken, don't care...

Liam Neeson stars in Taken. And he ain't happy...

After a staggering run at the top of the box office, someone has finally… ahem, Taken number one from Paul Blart: Mall Cop. That someone is Qui-Gon Jinn himself, Liam Neeson, in a nifty little European action thriller. Taken brought in $24.6 million this weekend, but that takes nothing away from Kevin James. Paul Blart brought in an additional $14 million to take home second place in its third week in the multiplex.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop, may be the first 100 million dollar picture of the release year 2009. It has grossed an impressive 83.3 million dollars so far, and given how strongly it has fended off all competition, there’s no telling just how long it can stay in the top ten. I’ve decided that this week, if I can, I’m going to go check this movie out to see what all the fuss is and why it’s proving to be so incredibly popular. From the premise and the trailers, I don’t get it. Maybe this would enlighten me.

Third place this weekend goes to the suddenly everywhere Elizabeth Banks. I think she’s a very appealing, likable kind of actress who I’d go see in just about anything, and The Uninvited is no exception to that. The public agrees with me to the tune of $10.5 million in ticket sales and third place in the weekend box office. Yet another Asian remake (this time Hollywood poaches the Korean film, Janghwa, Hongryeon) proves to be successful once again. Wonderful. Just go ahead and ruin Battle Royale now, okay?

Hotel for Dogs also continues to do well. Fourth place and $8.7 million at the box office puts it just outside $50 million for its total run thus far. It was in fourth place last week, too. Four legs good, two legs bad.

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Gran Torino continues to chug along, with $8.6 million and a solid fifth place weekend. It crossed $110 million this weekend, which is a really impressive haul for a film denied any Oscar nominations. Best picture nominee, Slumdog Millionaire, trails just behind Clint with 7.68 million dollars this weekend, good for sixth place. While it has awards in spades, its box office total is 67 million bucks in the States. That begs the question: would you rather be nominated for awards you probably won’t win, or would you rather make a huge sack full of money and still get respect?

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is definitely a picture made only to grab money. Most sequels are, after all, simply there to cash in on the good name of the original, successful picture. 7.2 million dollars isn’t a bad total for a crowded weekend, but seventh place is quite a big fall from last week’s second. Kate Beckinsale doesn’t seem terribly busy right now, maybe it’s not too late to get her on board for Underworld 4. Michael Sheen goes from David Frost to Lucian the rabble-rousing werewolf.

New in Town finds a very frosty welcome in its debut week. The film managed 6.75 million dollars American, but once upon a time Renee Zellweger was a huge comedy star. That’s err, likely over now.

Also likely over is My Bloody Valentine 3-D‘s box office run (after this weekend, of course). The gore picture from Lionsgate finds itself in ninth place this week on $4.2 million. The picture’s got an outside shot at $50 million, and has proven to be a success as horror films go and may well trigger a revival in the 3-D gimmick movie. I sure hope so, as it was a lot more fun that I had hoped for.

Less than hoped for is a charitable way to describe the take of Inkheart. A very weak tenth place and a meager $3.7 million weekend has sapped the life out of Brendan Fraser’s latest starring turn. It was aimed squarely at the kids, which seems to be Fraser’s focus as of late, and the success of Paul Blart might be why this film has been such a dud.

Next weekend is another loaded debut week for films. The most advertised of these is Steve Martin donning the trench coat of Inspector Clouseau once more for The Pink Panther 2 followed closely by the constantly advertised Push. Push looks okay, but Pink Panther 2? I’m going to pretend it never happened. I hope you’ll all join with me and do the same.

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Also out this weekend is He’s Just Not That Into You, which I could not want to see less, and Fanboys, which I kind of want to see based on a pretty funny trailer and constant interference from the movie studio. It was supposed to be released in 2007; obviously, it took a while for all the kinks to be worked out.

Finally, the big movie of this weekend is going to be Coraline. Granted, most people have never read a Neil Gaiman book and couldn’t pick a Henry Selick film out of a lineup, but I’m excited to see the Nightmare Before Christmas director and one of the greatest fantasy authors to ever put pen to paper together on the same project. If you can’t get excited about that, you’ve got no pulse!

2 Februray 2009