Box Office Report: 'Taken 2' Grabs $18.6 Million on Friday

Taken 2 Liam Neeson Running - H 2012
20th Century Fox

Taken 2 Liam Neeson Running - H 2012

Approaching 50 million for the weekend, the Liam Neeson sequel will easily win the weekend box office, beating out animated Halloween flicks "Hotel Transylvania" and Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie."

Taken 2, Liam Neeson’s action pic, is stirring up at lot of excitement at the box office this weekend: Bursting out of the gate, it grabbed an estimated $18.6 million at 3,661 theaters in North America this weekend, which puts the movie from Fox and EuropaCorp on track to pull in a heady weekend haul near the top of the $40 million range.

Frankenweenie, the weekend’s other new wide release, is proving to be much more of a niche play. Tim Burton’s 3D black-and-white, stop-motion animated homage to horror movies past took in 3.3 million in 3,005 theaters. It ranked fifth for the day and is looking at a weekend tally in the neighborhood of the low-teen millions.

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Unfortunately for Frankenweenie, it ran into another animated movie that plays fast and loose with horror archetypes – Sony’s Hotel Translyvania. The 3D, CG movie, which was number one last weekend with a $42.5 million opening, continued to do great business as it headed into its second weekend, posting a solid Friday number of $6.5 million as it heads toward a $23-25 million weekend.

Meanwhile, Universal’s college-set musical Pitch Perfect, which opened to $5.1 million in 335 theaters last weekend, widened out to 2,770 locations. Collecting $4.9 million for the day, it’s on track for a weekend take-home in the mid-teen millions.

Also entering its second weekend, Looper, the twisty time-travelling movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, from Sony, FilmDistrict and Endgame, ranked fourth as it collected $3.5 million on Friday.

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Taken 2 opens almost two years after Taken transformed into a sleeper box-office hit, revitalizing Neeson's career and grossing $226.8 million worldwide after opening domestically to $24.7 million in early January 2009.

Taken 2 also returns Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen as the daughter and ex-wife of Neeson's character, Bryan Mills. This time out, the story is set in Istanbul, where Janssen's character is kidnapped and the daughter goes on the run. Luc Besson reteamed with Robert Mark Kamen to write the script, while Olivier Megaton replaces Pierre Morel in the director's chair.

Fox -- which only distributed Taken -- made Taken 2 with Besson's EuropaCorp and also has worldwide rights. The sequel opens day-and-date in more than 25 markets.

Burton's pew-Halloween pic Frankenweenie -- a parody of author Mary Shelley's Frankenstein -- is a remake of the filmmaker's 1984 short film about a boy who brings his dog back to life with unintended consequences.

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Pitch Perfect, which opened in limited release last weekend, stars Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow. The film was co-financed by Universal and Paul Brooks' GoldCircle Films. Brooks produced alongside Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman