Weekend Forecast for October 5-7, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
October 5, 2012
It's difficult to overstate how terrible those first few weeks of September were for box office. What makes that all better? Weekends like this one, where they actually bother to release films people might want to see. Funny how that works.
Three years ago, Liam Neeson became one of the more unlikely actors to start an action career, when at the age of 56, he reinvented himself as the pinnacle of mid-aged badassery with Taken. Opening to $24 million and then, get this, actually showing legs, it instantly gave him credibility and created a small cottage industry with films like Liam Neeson: Fake Wife Puncher (Unknown) and Liam Neeson: Wolf Puncher (The Grey), with small sidetrips into Liam Neeson: Punching the Clock for the Check (Battleship and The A-Team). Of course, what audiences really want is another dose of the original, and that brings us to Taken 2.
After rescuing his daughter from a sex slavery ring based out of Paris and dismantling it with bullets, the action moves to Istanbul. Neeson brings both his daughter and wife (Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen, both returning) on vacation to the very spot where that ring originated from, which makes him the all-time champion in Tempting Fate. Pop Quiz: you kill members of a mob; is that going to make the rest of them happy or sad? Maybe they should consider Branson, Mo. as a travel destination. Predictably, the head honcho of the Turkish mob wants them all dead, and now he's got to rescue two family members. Presumably for Taken 3, they'll throw in a nephew or a cousin or something.
The formula for this movie isn't that complex – Liam Neeson goes in and kicks butt – but it's an elegant, straightforward style of action, with sensible plotting. Something that simple shouldn't be remarkable, but here we are. It's unlikely that Taken 2 will inspire anything quite so culturally significant as his speech to the kidnappers in the first film (which worked so well they put it on the poster), but by the same token, that cultural capital is what this film is banking on. Sequels to surprise hits can show huge bumps in opening weekends – recently The Hangover 2 almost doubled the take from the first one in its starting frame – and I see no reason not to expect Taken 2 to be an exception. Reviews are actually kind of terrible, but I don't expect fans of the first to care much, and they should give it a ride to first place with around $37 million.
Tim Burton goes back almost to the beginning with his “new” film Frankenweenie. Based on a short film he made as a 26-year-old, it's a stop-motion animated film about a boy who tries to bring his dog back to life with mad science, with horrific – well, PG-level horrific – results. To make the aesthetic he's going for that much more clear and the film just even more precious, it's been shot in black and white. It's a clear labor of love for Burton, but can he make other people care?