It’s Liam Neeson in a movie you wouldn’t necessarily expect the long, angular Irishman to be fronting: an action-thriller about an ex-CIA spy who must come out of retirement when white slavers abduct his teenage daughter while she’s in Paris with a slutty friend. Neeson hops on a plan to Paris and basically kicks, shoots, and karate chops about a hundred people in order to get her back. That premise, coupled with the awesome trailers for the movie (with Neeson’s character calmly and coolly telling the kidnappers via phone what he’s going to do to them) were more than enough to make “Taken” king of the box office over the Superbowl weekend.
Written and produced by Frenchman Luc Besson, “Taken” took $24 in its debut, good enough for first place, and about $10 million more than second-place finisher “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”, already in its third week of release. I guess America is still willing to chew Paul Blart’s bubble gum, only not not much. Still, with $83 million in domestic take so far, I think it’s safe to call Paul Blart the surprise box office kid of the year. It’ll do a mint on DVD to boot.
Other new films opening over the weekend, the PG-13 teen horror movie “The Uninvited” and the romantic comedy “New in Town” came in at third and eight place, respectively. While “The Uninvited”, based on a South Korean horror movie called “A Tale of Two Sisters” made $10.5 million in its debut (not an altogether bad haul, considering the film has zero bankable stars and is yet another in a long line of horror movies based on Asian originals about creepy girls), the Renee Zellweger romcom “New in Town” barely managed $6.75 million in its debut, which seems to prove that the era of predictable, cliche-ridden romcoms have come to an end. I’m just kidding, of course. Swap Zellweger with Kate Hudson or Reese Witherspoon and this still would have made $20, easy. I guess all the girls (and some of you boys out there) just weren’t in the mood to make the trek to the theaters with hubby all camped out in front of the couch for the Superbowl.
Other notes of interest: Brendan Fraser’s “Inkheart” continues to bite it at the box office, while Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” just continues to chug along, surpassing the $110 million mark with this weekend’s additional $8.6 score.
Here’s how the Top 10 at the box office broke down over the January 30 Weekend (via):
1 —–Taken —–$24,625,000 —–$24,625,000
2 —–Paul Blart: Mall Cop —–$14,000,000 —–$83,375,000
3 —–The Uninvited —–$10,512,000 —–$10,512,000
4 —–Hotel for Dogs —–$8,706,000 ——$48,229,000
5 —–Gran Torino —–$8,600,000 —–$110,547,000
6 —–Slumdog Millionaire —–$7,680,000 —–$67,244,000
7 —–Underworld: Rise of the Lycans —–$7,200,000 —–$32,784,000
8 —–New in Town —–$6,750,000 —–$6,750,000
9 —–My Bloody Valentine 3-D —–$4,260,000 —– $44,608,000
10 —–Inkheart —–$3,700,000 —–$12,792,000
Below: Maggie Grace. Co-star of “Taken”. I’d abduct that.