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Taken 3 rockets to US No.1 with $40.4 million debut

Taken 3

Story by Jack Foley

LIAM Neeson continued to show impressive pulling power as Bryan Mills, the man with a special set of skills, as the third film in his Taken franchise rocketed to the top of the US box office with a $40.4 million debut.

The impressive figure marks the second-best January opening of all time, not accounting for inflation, and was achieved in spite of generally poor reviews.

The action movie also earned another $41 million overseas, including the UK, for an early total of $81.4 million, prompting Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson to comment: “This global opening shows the enduring popularity of the character that Liam Neeson has created.”

Taken 3 didn’t quhite match the $49.5 million debut of Taken 2 but the film was released at a far more competitive time of year.

The three-quel re-teams Neeson with cast members Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace, and introduces Forest Whitaker to the franchise. It finds Neeson’s Mills character framed for the murder of his ex-wife and forced to go on the run to clear his name.

Golden Globe nominee Selma, starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., came in second as it expanded nationwide, taking $11.2 million.

The film, which was snubbed by the BAFTA Awards earlier this week, has generally drawn critical acclaim and is in contention for a good Oscar run.

Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore commented: “We’ve seen a spectacular response from both critics and moviegoers, and we are hopeful that the Academy has a similar response to the film. We are so proud of this incredibly compelling movie.”

The remainder of the US top five was comprised of holdover titles. Disney musical Into The Woods with $9.8 million, pushing its US total to $105.3 million for Disney.

And Peter Jackson’s final Hobbit installment, The Battle of the Five Armies, came in fourth with $9.4 million, meaning that the blockbuster has now hit $236.5 million in the US alone and over $700 million world-wide. It remains on course to take over $1 billion.

Rounding out the top five, meanwhile, was Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, with $8.4 million. That film has also now crossed the $100 million mark, with a new US total of $101.6 million. It marks a major success for director Jolie and leading man Jack O’Connell and has massively over-performed.

Elsewhere, there were box office successes for Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Imitation Game (at No.6) and Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper – the latter of which continued to perform massively in limited release. It goes on nationwide release later this month and opens in UK cinemas on Friday.

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