LOS ANGELES (AP) - Liam Neeson’s “Taken 2” has defended its box-office title with a narrow win over Ben Affleck’s “Argo.”
Sunday studio estimates put 20th Century Fox’s action sequel “Taken 2” at No. 1 with $22.5 million in its second weekend. “Taken 2” raised its domestic total to $86.8 million.
Affleck’s “Argo,” an Iranian hostage thriller from Warner Bros., opened in second-place with $20.1 million.
The follow-up to “Taken,” the hit that established dramatic star Neeson as an action hero, “Taken 2” was dinged by critics who called it a replay of the original. The sequel has Neeson’s ex-CIA guy up against a gang of Albanian goons out for revenge for their kin that he killed in the first movie.
“It kind of proves that reviews do not matter,” said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. “Audiences just continue to eat this up. They just love Liam Neeson in this role.”
“Argo” may prove the opposite, using its great reviews and Academy Awards buzz to settle in for a long stay at the box office. Affleck directed and starred in the real-life story about a CIA operative who concocts a plan to rescue six Americans hiding in Tehran after the 1979 U.S. embassy takeover by disguising them as members of a fake movie crew.
Revenues on the film ticked up a whopping 47 percent from opening day Friday to Saturday, a sign that audiences were talking it up exuberantly to friends.
“This is a really good indication of how quickly word of mouth can spread,” said Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner Bros. “The critical acclaim in this case is going to translate into commercial success.”
1. “Taken 2,” $22.5 million ($41 million international).
2. “Argo,” $20.1 million.
3. “Sinister,” $18.3 million ($4 million international).
4. “Hotel Transylvania,” $17.3 million ($13.7 million international).
5. “Here Comes the Boom,” $12 million.
6. “Pitch Perfect,” $9.3 million.
7. “Frankenweenie,” $7 million ($4.9 million international).
8. “Looper,” $6.3 million ($7.5 million international).
9. “Seven Psychopaths,” $4.3 million.
10. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” $2.2 million.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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