The January box office continued to do well with Liam Neeson’s return as special ops Bryan Mills in the third installment of his unlikely action franchise Taken 3 (20th Century Fox), co-starring Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen, which opened like gangbusters with an estimated $40.4 million in 3,593 theaters. While that was down from the $49.5 million opening of the previous installment in October 2012, it was enough to be considered the second-biggest January opening ever behind last year’s Kevin Hart-Ice Cube action-comedy Ride Along. Overseas, Neeson’s action movie has grossed $52.2 million, giving it a solid global total of $92.6 million. It’s reported production budget is $48 million, which means that it’s already recouped that amount.
Expanding nationwide into 2,179 theaters, director Ava DuVernay’s Civil Rights drama Selma (Paramount), starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. and co-starring Carmen Ejogo, Common, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey, took second place with an estimated $11.2 million or $5,140 per theater. It has grossed $13.5 million including the money it made in limited release since opening on Christmas Day.
Two more 2014 movies crossed the $100 million mark with the Disney musical Into the Woods, starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, James Corden and more, dropping one place to third with $9.8 million (down 48%) to bring its domestic total to $105.3 million. It has grossed another $15 million overseas for a global box office of $120.6 million.
The musical also pulled ahead of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (New Line/WB) for the first time in weeks as it dropped to fourth place with $9.4 million (down 57%) with a domestic total of $236.5 million so far.
Fifth place went to Angelina Jolie’s war drama Unbroken (Universal) with $8.4 million (down 54%), as that also crossed the $100 million mark with a total gross of $101.6 million. With the $14 million it has made overseas, it has a total global take of $115.7 million.
A very different wartime movie, the awards-nominated The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company) nearly doubled its theaters on Friday, allowing it to move up one place to sixth with $7.6 million (even with last week), having grossed $40.8 million since opening over Thanksgiving weekend.
In seventh place, Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (20th Century Fox) is closing in on $100 million with the $6.7 million it made this weekend (down 54%), bringing its total to $99.5 million.
The musical Annie (Sony) added another $4.9 million to its domestic take of $79.4 million.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (Lionsgate) wrapped up its two-month run in the Top 10 with a weekend take of $3.7 million, which brings its domestic total to $329.5 million, just $4 million away from surpassing Guardians of the Galaxy as the top-grossing movie of 2014.
The Top 10 grossed about $106.3 million, slightly down from this weekend last year when Mark Wahlberg’s Lone Survivor (Universal) expanded nationwide and won the weekend with $37.8 million while The Legend of Hercules (Summit) opened in third place with $8.9 million.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice (Warner Bros.), starring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio del Toro and Martin Short, expanded into just under 650 theaters where it grossed $2.9 million or roughly $4,500 per location.
Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper (Warner Bros.), starring Bradley Cooper, continues to have an impressive run in limited release before its nationwide expansion on Friday, this weekend making $555,000 in just four New York and L.A. theaters, bringing its total to $3.1 million.