Sequel Taken 2 stormed to the top of the North American box office with a record-breaking $50 million debut, more than double the original 2009 film and marking more good news for Liam Neeson. It also helped drive ticket sales up 43 percent over the same weekend last year.
From 20th Century Fox and EuropaCorp, the action pic also did plenty of damage overseas, where it grossd $55 million from its first 27 markets for a worldwide opening of $105 million.
In North America, Taken 2 nabbed the best-ever October opening for a PG-13 film and the third showing best overall after Paranormal Activity 3 ($52.6 million) and Jackass 3D ($50.4 million), both rated R.
Taken 2 opens almost two years after Taken transformed into a sleeper box-office hit, revitalizing Neeson's career and grossing $226.8 million globally after opening domestically to $24.7 million in early January 2009.
"People loved Liam and they love this character. The character is tough, but he cares. Everyone can identify with protecting their family," Fox president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson said.
Latenight moviegoing has been sluggish since the Aurora theater shooting in late July, but Taken 2 proved an exception, according to Fox.
Taken 2 played to a broad audience. Males made up 52 percent of the audience, and females, 48 percent. Fox exit polls showed that 56 percent were over the age of 25 and 44 percent, under.
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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.
Holdover Hotel Transylvania stayed strong in its second weekend, grossing in the $27 million range for a domestic cume north of $76 million. The 3D kids pic, also helping to fuel the domestic box office recovery, is turning in the top performance ever for Sony Pictures Animation.
Universal's female-fueled musical comedy placed a solid No. 3, grossing north of $14 million as it expanded nationwide for a domestic cume of $21.6 million.
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.
The news wasn't so good for Tim Burton’s 3D black-and-white, stop-motion animated Frankenweenie, which debuted to $11.5 million, well less than the $15 million to $20 million that Disney had hoped for. The pic, hurt by the continued strength of Hotel Transylvania, only managed a fifth-place finish.
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.
In its second weekend, Looper, the twisty time-travelling movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, from Sony's TriStar, FilmDistrict and Endgame, ranked fourth as it collected an estimated $12 million for a 10-day domestic cume of $40 million.