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Liam Nesson, Taken

Stephanie Branchu/20th Century Fox

It was a bad weekend to be an A-list actress or a Best Picture nominee. It was a good weekend—for the third weekend running—to be Paul Blart.

Kevin James' surprising Paul Blart: Mall Cop slipped to No. 2 in the box-office standings, but picked up another $14 million, its studio estimated, and raised its haul to $83.4 million. Overall, the new Liam Neeson thriller Taken led all films with $24.6 million. 

As for one Renée Zellweger, and those five Oscar hopefuls…?

Zellweger's New in Town ($6.8 million) opened weaker than last spring's Leatherheads. In fact, it opened weaker than any Zellweger comedy since The Bachelor, which really was more a now-rare species known as a Chris O'Donnell comedy.

The Best Picture gang, meanwhile, didn't have much more firepower, with only the hot Slumdog Millionaire ($7.7 million) posting a Top 10-worthy gross.

In the two weekends since Oscar nominations were announced, only The Reader ($2.4 million) has seen its per-screen average rise at least once. Frost/Nixon ($1.4 million) has looked especially done—and the big show's still a month away.

Elsewhere:

The new horror movie The Univited ($10.5 million) didn't quite live up to modest expectations.

Gran Torino ($8.6 million) topped $110 million domestically, and became Clint Eastwood's top-grossing film ever as an actor or director. (Provided you don't adjust for inflation.)

• Numbers weren't available for The Dark Knight, still in about 200 theaters, but Warners exec Jeff Goldstein said today the movie was within about $1.5 million—or about two weeksof hitting $1billion overall.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans ($7.2 million) dropped like a stone. Or Notorious ($1.7 million), as it were.

• After three weekends, Bride Wars ($3.6 million) was bounced from the Top 10. The $30 million comedy exits with a $53.9 million take.

Here's a recap of the holiday weekend's top-grossing films based on Friday-Sunday estimates from Exhibitor Relations:

  1. Taken, $24.6 million
  2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop, $14 million
  3. The Uninvited, $10.5 million
  4. Hotel for Dogs, $8.7 million
  5. Gran Torino, $8.6 million
  6. Slumdog Millionaire, $7.7 million
  7. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, $7.2 million
  8. New in Town, $6.8 million
  9. My Blood Valentine 3D, $4.3 million
  10. Inkheart, $3.7 million