Box Office: 'Non-Stop' Flies Past 'Son of God' With $10 Million Friday
UPDATED: Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's Christian film "Son of God" earns a strong $9.4 million and could still engineer an upset; "The Lego Movie" falls to No. 3 as it prepares to cross the $200 million mark sometime over the weekend.
Liam Neeson's latest action thriller Non-Stop flew past Christian movie Son of God to narrowly top the North American box office with $10 million for a projected $30 million weekend.
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's Son of God, chronicling the life of Jesus Christ and adapted from their hit television miniseries The Bible, took the No. 2 spot with a strong $9.4 million. That puts the faith-based film on course to gross $25 million, although it could overperform to pull ahead for the weekend.
Both films earned an A- CinemaScore. Of any film, Son of God is considered the most immune to Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony, which can often result in a dip in moviegoing.
Non-Stop marks another victory for Neeson's career as an elder action star, and is on course to score the best opening of any of the actor's recent action thrillers outside of Taken 2 ($49.5 million). The movie is the first film distributed by Universal per its new deal with Joel Silver's Silver Pictures.
In the film, Neeson stars as a U.S. federal air marshal who runs into trouble on a flight from New York to London. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Non-Stop also stars Julianne Moore, Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery, Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong'o and House of Card's Corey Stoll.
Released by 20th Century Fox, Son of God is an unusual offering in that it largely uses footage from a television show, although deleted scenes from the miniseries are also featured.
The movie amassed more than $4 million in advance ticket sales, helping to account for Friday's particularly strong number and thanks to heavy interest from churches and religious organizations that organized group outings and theater takeovers.
The film opens exactly a decade after Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ became an instant hit, opening to a massive $83.8 million on its way to earning $612 million worldwide. Son of God, lacking the controversy that Passion of the Christ sparked, wasn't expected to match those numbers.
Son of God is the first in a slew of biblical and faith-based films set for 2014. On March 28, Paramount debuts Darren Aronofsky's tentpole Noah. The studio will play a trailer of Noah before Son of God.
Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures' The Lego Movie fell to No. 3 after ruling the domestic box office for three consecutive weekends, grossing $4.4 million for a domestic total of $192.7 million. The 3D animated blockbuster will soar past the $200 million mark sometime over the weekend.
Also this weekend, Paramount is rereleasing an R-rated, extended version of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues in more than 1,000 theaters nationwide. The film is expected to earn roughly $1.4 million for the weekend to come in No. 14.