LOS ANGELES, USA (AP) — Critics don't like Taken 2, but Liam Neeson's action sequel has proved twice the hit among fans as the original movie was.
Taken 2 led the box office with US$50 million domestically over opening weekend, according to studio estimates yesterday. That's double the haul for Neeson's Taken, which took in US$24.7 million in its US debut in early 2009.
Taken went on to become a US$145 million smash for Neeson, the Academy Award-nominated star of Schindler's List who has become an unlikely action hero in his 50s.
In Taken 2, Neeson returns as a retired CIA agent using his expert espionage and killing skills to take on a gang of thugs out for revenge against him and his family.
"He gives hope to aging men," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. "He's done the reverse of most actors, where you do the action stuff when you're younger then do the more introspective work when you're older. He's sort of turned it around. When he's 80, he'll probably be kicking even more butt."
Taken 2, which began rolling out overseas a weekend earlier, added US$55 million more in about 50 international markets to raise its worldwide total to US$117 million.
The previous weekend's No 1 movie at the US box office, Adam Sandler's animated hit Hotel Transylvania, dropped to second-place with US$26.3 million. The Sony release raised its domestic total to US$76 million, and it has taken in US$29.3 million overseas for a worldwide haul of US$105.3 million