Weekend Report: 'Taken 3' Scores Third-Highest January Opening Ever
The Taken franchise ended on a high note this weekend, as the third and final entry opened in first place with an excellent $39.2 million.

Civil rights drama Selma got off to a slow start, while Inherent Vice opened well below writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master.

The Top 12 earned $110.2 million this weekend, which is off 10 percent from the same frame last year.

Taken 3's $39.2 million debut is off 21 percent from Taken 2's $49 million start; when considering how poorly that movie was received, that's actually a really good hold. It's well above star Liam Neeson's Non-Stop ($28.9 million), and is also a bit higher than Lone Survivor, which opened to $37.8 million on this same weekend last year. In fact, Taken 3 wound up with the third-highest January opening ever behind last year's Ride Along and 2008's Cloverfield.

Fox is reporting that the audience was 54 percent male and 65 percent over the age of 25. The movie received a "B+" CinemaScore, which is identical to Taken 2's grade. If Taken 3 falls off at the same rate, it will close with around $110 million.

In a distant second place, Selma expanded to nearly 2,200 locations and earned $11.3 million. Compare that to Lee Daniels' The Butler, which dealt with similar issues during a similar time period in U.S. history and earned over twice as much in its first weekend ($24.6 million). Selma instead wound up opening in line with disappointing political dramas J. Edgar ($11.2 million) and W. ($10.5 million).

Of course, opening weekend doesn't really tell the full story for Selma. The movie has fantastic reviews (98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), great word-of-mouth (a rare "A+" CinemaScore), and the type of adult audience that doesn't usually rush out on opening weekend. It also should get a boost after Oscar nominations are announced on Thursday (assuming it gets a Best Picture nomination, of course). If the movie can hold up well next weekend—and it really ought to, given its tie-in to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday—it should ultimately wind up on track to earn over $50 million.

Into the Woods eased 49 percent to $9.55 million this weekend. On Saturday, it crossed the $100 million threshold; ultimately, this should end its run somewhere between $120 and $130 million.

After holding first place for the last three weeks, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies dropped to fourth place this weekend. The final installment in Peter Jackson's Middle Earth prequel trilogy fell 57 percent to $9.4 million, which brings its total to $236.5 million. There's now a slim chance that Five Armies wraps up as the lowest-grossing entry in the series, below The Desolation of Smaug ($258.4 million).

Angelina Jolie's Unbroken took fifth place with $8.2 million (down 55 percent). On Sunday, it passed $100 million, and is on its way to at least $115 million by the end of its run.

The Imitation Game expanded to 1,566 locations—more than double its previous count—and eased seven percent to $7.2 million. The movie continues to outperform The King's Speech; with Oscar nominations still on the way, The Imitation Game has a real shot at reaching $100 million (it's at $40.4 million right now).

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb ended the weekend with $99.5 million in total domestic box office. In the next few days, the final installment in the family-friendly franchise will pass $100 million.

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death fell 69 percent to $4.65 million. In comparison, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was off 66 percent on the same weekend last year. Through 10 days, the horror sequel has earned $22.2 million, and is on its way to less than $30 million overall.

Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice expanded to 645 locations and earned $2.77 million this weekend. In comparison, Anderson's The Master grossed $4.4 million when it expanded wide back in 2012, while star Joaquin Phoenix's Her (2013) took in $5.4 million when it expanded on this weekend last year.

Taken on its own, this isn't a terrible debut. It would be surprising, though, if the movie held up well in the coming weeks. It has received generally mixed reviews, and word-of-mouth will probably follow suit. It's also unlikely that it receives any significant Oscar nominations on Thursday. Ultimately, look for this to close around $10 million.

For the third weekend in a row, American Sniper did exceptional business in four locations (two in New York, one in Los Angeles and one in Dallas). Clint Eastwood's war drama added $579,518, which translates to a stunning $144,880 per-theater average. That average ranks 17th all-time, which means Sniper now holds three of the Top 20 highest per-theater averages ever. Even more impressive is the fact that it now holds three of the top five per-theater averages for live-action movies playing in at least two locations.

With $3.17 million in the bank so far, American Sniper is set to expand to over 3,200 theaters next weekend; don't be surprised if it comes close to matching Lone Survivor's $37.8 million debut.

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'Taken 3' Targets $30-Million-Plus Debut This Weekend

Last Weekend

'Hobbit' Finale Three-Peats on First Weekend of 2015

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2014 - Audiences Flock to 'Lone Survivor,' Avoid 'Hercules,' 'Her'

• 2013 - 'Texas Chainsaw' Slashes Into First

• 2012 - Moviegoers Possessed By 'Devil Inside'

• 2011 - 'True Grit' Captures Lead

• 2010 - 'Avatar' Obtains More Records in Fourth Outing

• 2009 - 'Gran Torino' Muscles In

• 2008 - 'Bucket List' Lives It Up at Top Spot

• 2007 - 'Museum,' 'Pursuit' Three-peat

• 2006 - 'Hostel' Lodged Into Top Spot

• 2005 - 'White Noise' Resonates with $24M Debut

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