Liam Neeson may not have become a full-fledged action star until he was in his mid-50s, but the man is proving downright unstoppable at the box office. Neeson’s latest action outing, Non-Stop, bested the competition this Oscar weekend with a stronger-than-expected $30 million opening, knocking The Lego Movie out of the No. 1 spot it had held for three straight weeks and topping the weekend’s other major debut, Son of God, which took second place with $26.5 million.
While Non-Stop‘s opening fell well short of the $49.5 opening weekend haul of Neeson’s last action flick, 2012’s Taken 2, the cat-and-mouse thriller scored a bigger debut than several of his earlier films, including The A-Team, Battleship, and the first installment in the Taken franchise. Reviews were mediocre, but moviegoers gave the film an A- CinemaScore. Interestingly, the audience skewed 51 percent female and 65 percent over the age of 25, suggesting that Neeson’s appeal extends far outside the stereotypical young, male action-movie demographic.
No one was quite certain how the latest big-screen take on the life of Jesus Christ, Son of God, would perform going into this weekend, since tracking for religious-oriented fare is notoriously dicey. Adapted from the smash History Channel miniseries The Bible, the film received an aggressive, months-long grassroots marketing push targeting Christian audiences, and some wondered whether it could replicate the phenomenon that was Mel Gibson’s 2004 The Passion of the Christ. In the end, Son of God didn’t prove the second coming of Passion, pulling in just a fraction of that film’s staggering, nearly $84 million opening. Still, the film’s $26.5 million debut — and its A- CinemaScore — proved that the core churchgoing audience will enthusiastically turn out for a film that, in their view, faithfully represents their beliefs. As for exactly what Son of God‘s performance may portend for this year’s other major upcoming biblical movies — Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Ridley Scott’s Exodus, each of which is hoping to capture a broad audience of believers and non-believers — well, God only knows.
The Lego Movie may have fallen to third place, but don’t feel bad for the brick-tastic animated hit. The film continued to perform (everything is) awesomely in its fourth weekend with a $21 million haul. The Lego Movie has now passed the $200 million mark domestically and the $300 million mark worldwide, making it by far the biggest release so far this year. Even that impressive performance, though, pales a bit next to the other recent animated blockbuster, Disney’s Frozen, which crossed the $1 billion global box office mark this weekend — only the 18th film to hit that milestone.
Last week’s second place finisher, the Kevin Costner-starring action pic 3 Days to Kill. dropped to fifth place with an estimated $4.9 million haul, while the Mount Vesuvius epic Pompeii sank a steep 60 percent from its already disappointing opening last weekend, falling to seventh place. Meanwhile, George Clooney’s The Monuments Men continued to hold better than expected, clinging to a spot in the top five with an estimated $5 million weekend. This brings the film’s cumulative grosses to a solid if not quite monumental $65 million, proving that Sony was probably smart to move the film out of its initially slated Christmas release, where it may have gotten lost in the shuffle.
Paramount’s re-release of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues in an R-rated, extended cut with all new jokes mopped up $1.3 million in 1,317 theaters, bringing that film’s total gross to $126 million — well beyond the original Anchorman‘s $85 million haul.
1. Non-Stop: $30 million
2. Son of God: $26.5
3. The Lego Movie: $21 million
4. The Monuments Men: $5 million
5. 3 Days to Kill: $4.9 million