‘Selma’ Takes Second Spot at the Box Office


Taken 3, or Tak3n as the cool kids call it, became the first big hit of 2015 with a stunning $40.4 million debut weekend. That’s 60% more than the $25m that the first Taken earned on its first weekend over Super Bowl weekend in 2009 and just 18% less than the $49.5m earned by Taken 2 on its debut frame in October 2012. It’s actually the third biggest January Friday gross behind  Ride Along ($41m in 2014) and just ahead of Cloverfield ($40m in 2008). Absolutely no one was expecting Taken 3 to reach the massive $49.5m debut weekend of Taken 2, which was among the top debut weekends for any non-fantasy action picture on record. But the fact that this terribly-reviewed threequel dropped in mid-January is going to get pretty close means that maybe general audiences didn’t hate Taken 2 as much as you and I might have. Or they just wanted to see Liam Neeson play Bryan Mills (for $20m) one last time. The $48 million EuropaCorp production, distributed by 20th Century Fox , is EuropaCorp’s second big smash in a row, following the $44m debut (and eventual $458m worldwide gross) of Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy. Maybe they should consider putting some of that money into Space Jail 2?

The sound you heard is Sony green-lighting The Equalizer 2, or at least it should be. Outside of the people directly involved with this threequel, the biggest winners were probably those involved with Liam Neeson’s Warner Bros. mob thriller Run All Night. The film’s pretty entertaining trailer played in front of pretty much every print of Taken 3 for obvious reasons, and it was a perfect example of selling your movie to precisely the right audience. EuropaCorp’s next release is The Transporter: Legacy on June 19th, with Ed Skrein filling in for Jason Statham. I’m not sure why the production house didn’t have a trailer ready to go this weekend, but maybe they’re just biding their time until Furious 7 on April 3rd. The film earned $41m overseas as well for a $81.4m worldwide cume. It had a better weekend multiplier (2.7x) than Taken 2, which is a big deal in my book. The film played 54% male, 64% 25-and up, and 44% 25-44 years old. It played 46% Caucasian, 25% African American, 17% Hispanic, and 12% Asian or “other.” The next step for Liam Neeson should really be a team-up action film with Denzel Washington. Imagine the grim righteousness! And bonus points for casting Keanu Reeves as the baddie. You all know such a film would earn at least $1 billion… in America… on opening weekend. Make it happen, Hollywood.

The second wide release of the weekend was Selma, Ava DuVernay’s critically-acclaimed Martin Luther King Jr. biopic centering on the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery that preceded the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The film had been in limited release for two weekends and expanded to 2,179 theaters. Its first Friday in wide release netted $11.2 million this weekend for a $13.6m cume. I was hoping for a symbolic $20m debut weekend, which would have matched the film’s production budget in three days, but this is still a solid start to the Pathe/Harpo Films drama. This wasn’t as commercial a sell as The Butler (white movie stars playing US presidents!) or 42 (It’s baseball, and Harrison Ford is giving a damn again!). I imagine even black moviegoers possibly felt the film was akin to homework and are saving their box office dollars for Kevin Hart’s The Wedding Ringer. The film played 61% female and 83% over-25 years old, so you know where Paramount’s second weekend marketing spend needs to be.

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Source: Forbes | Scott Mendelson

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