Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
March 4, 2014
Kim Hollis: Non-Stop, the latest Liam Neeson kicking ass movie, opened with $28.9 million this weekend. What do you think of this result?
Edwin Davies: This proves what I have long suspected: Liam Neeson is more popular than Jesus. It's nice to finally have the figures to back up the blasphemy.
This result for Non-Stop is a bit higher than I would have expected going in to the weekend, considering that Neeson's wheelhouse tends to be a bit lower outside of the Taken films, but it's still only a few million more than I expected. Still, the combination of his fan base, which has proven to be fairly consistent since his late-career reinvention as an action star, a clever premise, and constant ads combined to a very solid start. It's kind of hard to judge where it goes from here since Neeson's films can have tremendous legs (Taken) or hardly any (Unknown), but it's guaranteed to cover its budget at this point, and will probably do really well overseas. This is another solid result for Neeson.
Matthew Huntley: I'm more surprised by this result than not (and I seem to be in the same boat as most industry observers, including Mr. Edwin Davies). Going into the weekend, I would have predicted between $21-$24 million for Non-Stop, especially because of the Oscars, but this only reinforces modern-day action-thriller fans' likeness for Liam Neeson trumps their willingess to see more substantive films. We've entered an age where "Liam Neeson + high concept action plot" is more or less a guaranteed formula to make money.
But while this is good for the industry, it's not so good for those who want to see Neeson re-broaden his horizons. I saw Non-Stop this weekend and I must say I was unimpressed and walked away disappointed. I knew what I was getting into, of course, but I still wish Neeson would pick roles that add diversity to his repertoire, if even just a little bit. How many times are we going to watch him play the old, cynical law enforcer who finds himself caught up in an unbelievable situation? It's getting old, although, judging by Non-Stop's numbers, I'm in the minority on this. Anyone else feel the same way I do?
Jason Barney: I'd have to echo the surprise that is being raised with the opening weekend of Non-Stop. A few months ago when I saw the trailer I would have never thought this would open at #1. Now the competition is not super tough, but I'm in the camp that thought the trailer was awful and that this film was going to bomb. Even going into the weekend I believed people would not go out to see it, that we would be discussing Liam Neeson going to the well once too often.
Neeson's fan base came out and it is going to drive this film to profitability pretty quickly. Depending on which numbers you use, the $50 million reported budget was probably much higher. But even staying with the low number means that by the end of weekend two, Non-Stop will have grossed a lot more than its reported budget. If the film shows any kind of legs at all, this is going to be a big win for Universal. And then the international dollars can be added to the mix.