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Box Office Preview: 'Taken' vs. The Super Bowl

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Taken01_l

Taken01_l

For anybody who doesn’t want to watch the Super Bowl (or the 48

hours of coverage surrounding the event) this weekend, it’ll be easy to

find a movie at the multiplex…and hard to predict which one

will come out on top. The film gods are dropping three big new flicks

into theaters: the thriller Taken, the comedy New in Town, and the

horror pic The Uninvited. And those movies will go up against a slew of strong

holdovers, including two-time champ Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Clint

Eastwood’s Gran Torino, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, and the Oscar

nominated Slumdog Millionaire. Not to mention the expanding Best Picture nominees Milk and The Reader. A tight race, indeed! Complicating

matters, of course, is Sunday’s Steelers-Cardinals matchup, which

should depress movie grosses pretty substantially. Anyway, here’s what I

think we have in store.

1. Taken — $14 million
Liam Neeson plays a former CIA agent on

the trail of the sex traffickers who kidnapped his daughter (Lost‘s

Maggie Grace) in Paris. Also involved are Neeson’s character’s ex-wife

(Famke Janssen) and her rich new husband (Xander Berkeley). From

writer-producer Luc Besson (The Professional, the Transporter series).

Sounds like a classic guy movie — which could have trouble playing on a classic guy weekend, opposite football. I’m guessing, though, that all movies will take a hit from the big game, so Taken (playing in a hefty 3,183 theaters) still has the

best chance of scoring a box office touchdown.

2. The Uninvited — $12 million
Another Asian horror remake, this

one featuring Elizabeth Banks and David Strathairn, among others. In

2008, four different Asian horror remakes opened between $10 mil and

$13 mil. Enough said.

3. Paul Blart: Mall Cop — $12 million
Kevin James keeps cruising along, naysayers be damned.

4. Gran Torino — $11 million
Clint Eastwood keeps cruising along, Oscars be damned.

5. New in Town — $9 million
I totally thought the trailer for

this comedy (in which Renee Zellweger plays a warm-climate lady sent to

do business in the frozen Midwest) looked cute and made the movie seem

like a winner…and then I read this revealing article in The New

Yorker,

which details, among other things, the challenges the film presented to

the marketing folks at Lionsgate. So now I understand why it’s only

opening in a moderate 1,941 theaters. And now I also have some doubts

about its prospects.

Okay, sports fans, it’s your turn to have a go at making some predictions!

More Box Office News:

Paul Blart edges out Underworld 3 to win the weekend

EW.com’s Box Office Chart

Paul Blart: Mall Cop wins the weekend
Gran Torino drives away with a win
Batman was a blockbuster, but did 2008 bomb?

addCredit(“Stephanie Branchu”)