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‘Taken 3’ Takes Friday Box Office, ‘Selma’ Off to Decent Expansion

'Taken 3' Takes Friday Box Office, 'Selma' Off to Decent Expansion

Taken 3” (20th Century Fox), the second new wide release film of 2015 (as well as second sequel so far) completely dominated the box office yesterday. Its $14.7 million first-day gross accounted for nearly 45% of the total as post-holiday life returned to normal and the surge of adults’ and kids’ films over the last two weeks at least temporarily abated. Wintry weather in much of the country likely also is a factor in the 7% drop from the same day last year.

The third entry in the massively successful French-produced series ($600 million+ worldwide for the first two films) opened to about 20% less than “Taken 2” in October 2012, but still looks to rank as one of the best January openings ever. The month normally isn’t a big one for new releases with holdovers and awards expansions of Christmas films often the dominant factor. (Next week’s wide release of “American Sniper” will likely set a new benchmark for the month). “Taken 3” also fills the void of action releases over the holidays, and its initially strong number comes in part from that.

Selma(Paramount) expanded to 2,179 theaters (from 22 last week) before its possible Oscar nomination haul next Thursday to gross a decent $3.8 million. The last two Christmas platformed films to go to over 2,000 theaters the same weekend – “Gran Torino” and “Zero Dark tHIRTY” – both took in over $9 million their first wide Friday in about a third more total theaters. “Selma” is getting established, but is going to need both continued strong word-of-mouth and an awards boost to achieve its expected potential.

The third to fifth-placing titles shifted their relative positions from last Friday, with all taking steep drops. “Unbroken” (Universal) took third and best among them with $2.6 million, ahead of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (Warner Bros.) in fourth just under $2.5 million and “Into the Woods” (Buena Vista) only $10,000 less. “Hobbit” has been the top grosser for the past three weekends and for every day but one since its release, and over the past two weekends has been ahead of “Unbroken” each day, so this close placement represents a small shift as all three films start to wind down after strong performances.

“The Imitation Game” (Weinstein) doubled its theater count to 1,566 to achieve a gross of over $2.1 million (down from nearly $3 million last Friday) to take sixth place (up from eighth). The rest of the Top Ten all dropped two thirds or more from their post-holiday bumps last week. In order from seventh, “Night at the Museum: Secrets of the Tomb” (20th Century Fox) did $1.6 million), “The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death” (Relativity) $1.5 (down 80% for the day), and both at or just over $1 million “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” (Lionsgate) and “Annie” (Sony) complete the list.

Just below the Top Ten, “Inherent Vice” (Warner Bros.) in 645 theaters (up from 16) grossed $960,000. Still in only four, “American Sniper” (also Warner Bros.) held up well at a still outstanding $156,000, down less than a third.

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