‘Taken 2’ tops box office in the U.S.

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‘Taken 2’ tops box office in the U.S.

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LOS ANGELES - Critics don’t like “Taken 2,’’ but Liam Neeson’s action sequel has proved twice the hit among fans as the original movie was.

“Taken 2’’ led the box office with $50 million domestically over opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. That’s double the haul for Neeson’s “Taken,’’ which took in $24.7 million in its U.S. debut in early 2009.

“Taken’’ went on to become a $145 million smash for Neeson, the Academy Award-nominated star of “Schindler’s List’’ who has become an unlikely action hero in his 50s.

In “Taken 2,’’ Neeson returns as a retired CIA agent using his expert espionage and killing skills to take on a gang of thugs out for revenge against him and his family.

“He gives hope to aging men,’’ said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. “He’s done the reverse of most actors, where you do the action stuff when you’re younger then do the more introspective work when you’re older. He’s sort of turned it around. When he’s 80, he’ll probably be kicking even more butt.’’

“Taken 2,’’ which began rolling out overseas a weekend earlier, added $55 million more in about 50 international markets to raise its worldwide total to $117 million.

The previous weekend’s No. 1 movie at the U.S. box office, Adam Sandler’s animated hit “Hotel Transylvania,’’ dropped to second place with $26.3 million. The Sony release raised its domestic total to $76 million, and it has taken in $29.3 million overseas for a worldwide haul of $105.3 million.

Expanding into nationwide release after a limited debut a week earlier, Universal’s music tale “Pitch Perfect’’ moved up to third place with $14.7 million. The movie stars Anna Kendrick as a college freshman spicing things up for her a cappella singing squad.

Sony’s sci-fi thriller “Looper,’’ starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fell from second place to fourth with $12.2 million, lifting its domestic haul to $40.3 million.

Tim Burton’s animated monster tale “Frankenweenie’’ had a slow start, taking in $11.5 million to round out the top five. The Disney release is an update of Burton’s 1984 live-action short film about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life.

Released by 20th Century Fox, “Taken 2’’ gave a big boost to Hollywood revenues, which have lagged most weekends since late summer.

AP
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