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Taken 2 takes over the box office

Liam Neeson in Taken 2

In spite of being savaged by critics, action sequel Taken 2 stormed to the top of the box office in its opening weekend, grossing $50 million in North America and $53 million internationally. The original Taken debuted with less than half this sum in 2009.

Not only did the film help drive the season’s sluggish ticket sales up 43% over the same weekend last year, it also has cemented its lead Liam Neeson, who plays a retired CIA agent rescuing his kidnapped wife from his vengeful enemies in Istanbul, as a bankable action star.

Holdover Hotel Transylvania lost the crown but stayed strong over the weekend with $26 million in the US box office. The 3D animation, which features the voices of Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez and Kevin James, was ranked 4th overseas with $13 million, bringing its global cume to $105.3 million.

The third spot was claimed by the teen musical comedy Pitch Perfect, which opened with $14.7 million in the US. Produced for only $17 million, the film stars Anna Kendrick as a new student who helps reviving an all-female cappella singing group in her college.

Sci-fi time travel thriller, Looper, lands in the 4th spot in the US with $12.2 million and drops to the 2nd spot in the foreign market with $10 million (without counting China). Directed by Rian Johnson, the film centers on an assassin (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who is tasked by the mob to execute his future self (Bruce Willis).

Languishing in the 5th spot was Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, which opens with a disappointing $11.5 million in the US. The 3D animation is an expanded remake of Burton’s 1984 short film with the same title. A homage to Shelley’s Frankenstein, the film tells the story of a kid who brings his dead dog back to life.

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