Weekend Wrap-Up

Taken 3 and Selma Strong; Holdovers Not

By John Hamann

January 11, 2015

Between Lost and Taken, that girl has had a rough time.

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All of these films save Star Wars debuted in the last decade, which shows why Neeson has become one of the big stars of the day. His voice work is also extremely popular, and includes The Lego Movie ($69.1 million opening) and two Narnia movies, the Lion Witch and the Wardrobe ($65.6 million) and Prince Caspian ($55 million opening). Next up for Neeson is Ted 2, and if it’s anything like the original, should debut beyond the $50 million threshold.

The Taken series has been a boon for Luc Besson’s Europa Pictures and 20th Century Fox, as they don’t cost a lot to make and play well both domestically and abroad. The first Taken film cost only $25 million to make, opened to $25 million stateside, and had tiny declines of just of 17% and 8% over its first two follow up weekends. It went on to earn $145 million stateside and $82 million overseas.

The sequel cost $45 million to make, and debuted to more than that amount, at $49.5 million. It didn’t have the legs of the original, but still earned $140 million stateside and a ridiculous $236 million overseas. Taken 3 cost $50 million to make, and with this opening, should have no problem getting to $110 million domestically before going on to dominate the planet. Luc Besson and Europa used the same model for Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy, which cost $40 million and made $458 million worldwide.


Finishing second this weekend is Selma, the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic, distributed by Paramount, but made by a group of companies that include Oprah’s Harpo Productions and Brad Pitt’s Plan B. Having earned $2.3 million over two weekends from only 22 screens, Selma went wide this frame, improving its venue count to 2,179. The increase in the amount of theaters led to a Friday take of $3.8 million, and a strong weekend take of $11.2 million, good for a decent venue average of $5,140. Made for $20 million, Selma is in a good position, given that the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend is happening in the next frame, meaning Paramount can still take this wider. Add to that a potential for a few Golden Globe wins tonight and some Oscar nominations on January 15th, and Selma could have another strong frame next weekend.

Selma is putting a strong case together for a Best Picture Oscar. A strong limited release where the film averaged of $30,000 per screen during the weekends created discussion and strong word-of-mouth, as this is a very good film. At RottenTomatoes, Selma is a rock star, with a 98% fresh rating from all critics, and a 100% fresh rating from the site’s "top critics." There have been a lot of "almost perfect" (at least in critics eyes) type of films throughout 2014, so Selma is a rare bird. Along with the great reviews, Selma has a sizzling Cinemascore of A+, which is more good news for a film that needs strong word-of-mouth to propel it forward. So far, Selma has earned $13.5 million against that $20 million budget, and it will be very interesting to follow this one over the next couple of weekends and potentially the next two months.

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