The legend of Liam Neeson's action career grows.
Neeson's Taken 2 blew up at the weekend box office with an estimated $50 million, the third-largest debut ever for an October release, and probably the all-time best start for a revenge film with a leading man of a certain age.
(Hint: Neeson's 60.)
Taken 2 doubled the bow of the original Taken, the 2009 hit that kicked Neeson to the head of the kick-ass genre.
The sequel's start is the third-biggest opener for Neeson, behind only the mega-spectacles of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phanton Menace and 2010's Clash of the Titans.
The only October films to bow bigger were Paranormal Activity 3 and Jackass 3-D.
Overseas, where Taken 2 opened in some countries last week, the movie took in another $55 million, upping its worldwide total to $117 million.
Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, the other major new release, looked only half-alive with a fifth-place, $11.5 million debut. (Halloween holdover Hotel Transylvania, by comparison, took in $26.3 million.) One saving grace for Frankenweenie: The dead-dog tale reportedly was made for an animation-cheap $39 million.
The R-rated antics of Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron were good for a solid, but not-sensational start for The Paperboy, which grossed $110,033 at 11 theaters, but saw per-screen-average bragging rights go to Taken 2.
Elsewhere, Pitch Perfect went wide, and grossed $14.7 million. To date, the $17 million comedy has grossed $21.6 million domestically.
Maggie Gyllenhaal's and Viola Davis' Won't Back Down ($1 million; $4.5 million overall domestically) made a quick exit from the Top 10—and that can't help whatever Oscar chances the film had, or rather, had left.
On the plus side, the charter-school drama has become the Oogieloves of charter-school dramas—it reigns as the worst-ever opening film on more than 2,500 screens; the summer's Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure holds the distinction as the worst-ever opening film on up to 2,500 screens.
Sorry, there's not really a plus side here, is there?
Overall, it was another rebound weekend for Hollywood. According to Exhibitor Relations, ticket sales for the top movies were up a whopping 55 percent when compared to the same weekend last year.
Here's a complete look at the weekend's top movies, per Friday-Sunday domestic estimates as reported by the studios and Exhibitor Relations: