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Box office preview: 'Taken 3' to take over

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Taken 3
Sam Urdank

After The Hobbit‘s three consecutive weekends on top, it’s time for its reign as box office champ to end when Taken 3 hits theaters this weekend.

The action film is—obviously—the third in the Taken series, which has done pretty well at the box office in the past: The first earned $24.7 million its first weekend in 2009 and ended its run with a $145 million domestic total, while the second opened with $49.5 million in 2012 and in total made $139.8 million domestically. And, thanks to its status as an action film—and as a part of a successful trilogy—the film is poised to nab the number one spot at the box office this weekend.

Selma should also find its way to the top, as the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic is expanding to 2,179 theaters. These are the only two slightly new films expected to crack the top five though, as the mainstays—The Hobbit, Into the Woods, and Unbroken—aren’t going anywhere just yet.

Here’s how the weekend could play out:

1. Taken 3 — $29 million

It’s hard to tell how Taken 3 is going to do because, on one hand, it’s an action movie and moviegoers love action movies—plus, it stars Liam Neeson who did a good job bringing in action-loving crowds with last year’s Non-Stop. On the other hand though, projections are expecting the movie’s opening gross to match the first Taken—not the second, more initially profitable, one—and that could be partly because of franchise fatigue: As The Hobbit 3 showed its opening weekend (which wasn’t impressive compared to previous Hobbits), sometimes the third time isn’t a charm. Either way, there’s a definite lack of action in theaters now and that alone will bring in crowds.

2. Selma — $21 million

Selma, which cost $20 million, already has four Golden Globe nods—including one for Best Picture—under its belt and is the subject of multiple glowing reviews. These factors combine to make for a movie that entertainment lovers will want to see, both because it’s supposed to be great and because it’s going to be a film people are talking about quite a bit for the next couple months. In its first two weeks of limited release, the film has made a little over $2 million. While it won’t be able to keep up its current gross-per-theater average of about $30,000, it will probably slide into the number two spot with a number somewhere in the 20 millions.

3. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies — $11.5 million

The Hobbit‘s gross dropped almost 47 percent between last weekend and the one before, so it’s expected to continue on that path and bring in around $12 million this time around.

4. Into the Woods — $11.2 million

For the third weekend in a row, Into the Woods and Unbroken will likely finish with very close numbers—and, for the third weekend in a row, Into the Woods will probably be the victor of the two in part because of its more dedicated audience (musical fans are more enthusiastic than war movie fans) and better reviews.

5. Unbroken — $10.9 million

Unbroken might be saying goodbye to the top five next weekend, but it should still have a spot this weekend right next to Into the Woods as Angelina Jolie fans and those looking for some World War II-set drama head to theaters to check it out.