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Box Office: ‘Taken 3’ Gunning for $37 Million Weekend

The opening of Liam Neeson’s “Taken 3” is dominating U.S. moviegoing, heading for as much as $35 million to $37 million this weekend, according to early projections.

Taken 3” took in an estimated $14 million Friday at 3,593 locations — leaving it with an opening weekend that will be significantly above recent forecasts that had pegged the actioner at around $30 million. That number included $1.6 million from Thursday-night showings at 2,499 locations.

The finale of the “Taken” trilogy could match the opening weekend of Universal’s  “Lone Survivor,” which opened with $37.8 million in its first frame a year ago on its way to a $125 million domestic total.

“Taken 3” carries a $48 million budget and was financed by EuropaCorp, with Fox handling distribution. Neeson is reprising his role as a former covert operative who’s on the run after being framed for the murder of his wife.

“Taken 3” won’t be quite as robust as “Taken 2,” which kicked off with $49.5 million in its opening weekend in 2012 on its way to a $145 million U.S. total. The original “Taken” bowed to $24.7 million in 2009 and closed with $139 million.

Paramount’s expansion of Oscar contender “Selma” is expected to finish a respectable second with a range of $11 million to $15 million as it goes from 22 theaters to 2,179. The Civil Rights drama appeared heading for the $3.5 million to $4.5 million range on Friday, including $400,000 from late Thursday showings.

Thanks to stellar reviews, “Selma” brought in an impressive $2.1 million from the 22 locations since it opened on Christmas.

The fourth weekend of New Line-MGM’s “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” should lead the rest of the pack, though “Unbroken” and “Into the Woods” may challenge for third place.

“Five Armies” looks likely to take in $2.6 million on Friday for a $9 million for the weekend. The trilogy finale grossed $1.4 million on Thursday to lift the U.S. gross to $227.1 million after 23 days.

Universal’s “Unbroken” had the highest Friday number at $2.8 million while Disney’s “Into the Woods” was at $2.6 million — with both projecting out to a shade under $9 million for their third weekends. Both will wind up the weekend with U.S. cumes topping $100 million.

Warner Bros.’ expansion of Joaquin Phoenix’s offbeat detective comedy-drama “Inherent Vice” from 16 to 645 locations appeared headed for about $1 million on Friday and a moderate $3.5 million for the weekend, bringing the cume to $4.7 million.

Awards contender “The Imitation Game” should remain a solid performer for The Weinstein Co. with around $7 million for the weekend at 1,566 sites — nearly matching its $7.8 million performance last weekend. TWC went wide on Christmas Day and will see U.S. grosses top $40 million by the end of the weekend.

 

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