Box Office Report: Ben Affleck's 'Argo' and 'Taken 2' in Close Friday Race

"Argo"
"Argo"
 

Ben Affleck's Argo is off to a great start at the North American box office and has a shot of posting a weekend opening in the $18 million to $20 million range.

But that may not be enough to beat Liam Neeson holdover Taken 2, which could gross $23 million in its second weekend. For Friday itself, Argo is expected to earn in the $6.6 million range, while Taken 2 could take in $7 million.

From Warner Bros., Argo is a critical darling and awards frontrunner. Affleck both directed and stars in the period political thriller.

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Based on the true story of the rescue of six Americans hiding out at the Canadian Embassy during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, Argo also headlines Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman. The film chronicles how the Americans were able to escape Iran after the CIA and specialist Tony Mendez staged a fake movie production as a cover.

Argo is Affleck's third directing effort and is getting the widest release of the bunch (3,232 theaters). The Town debuted to $23.8 million in September 2011 after an $8.3 million Friday.

The new movie's producers include George Clooney and GK Films.

Taken 2, from 20th Century Fox and EuropaCorp, has qiuckly transformed into a box office hit, opening to $49.5 million last weekend and grossing $64.3 million through Thursday.

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In addition to Argo, four other new films enter the marketplace -- Summit Entertainment's horror pic Sinister, Sony's Kevin James family comedy Here Comes the Boom, CBS Films' dark comedy Seven Psychopaths and conservative-leaning Atlas Shrugged: Part II.

Sinister, costing less than $3 million to make, may do the best of the bunch with a weekend gross in the $13 to $14 million range (the film earned a strong $1 million in Thursday midnight runs).

Boom, which has been soft in tracking, is pacing to open in the $11 million to $12 million range.

Seven Psychopaths is only opening in 1,480 theaters, while Atlas has an even smaller run with 1,012 locations.

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