LOS ANGELES Ben Affleck’s Argo failed to win the top spot at the box office last weekend, but the political thriller may have scored a victory on its path to award season.
Argo had to settle for the runner-up position behind Liam Neeson’s Taken 2, which ruled the multiplex for the second consecutive weekend and grossed an additional $21.9 million, according to distributor 20th Century Fox. That film has now collected a robust $86.1 million, or 62 percent more, than the original Taken had collected after two weeks in theaters in 2009.
The Warner Bros. film Affleck directed and stars in, meanwhile, opened with a respectable $19.5 million and performed better than four other new films debuting in wide release. Moviegoers who saw Argo last weekend loved it, assigning it a rare A-plus, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
According to a Los Angeles Times study published in February, the median age of academy members is 62. And Argo — based on the true story of a CIA agent who rescued six U.S. State Department employees from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis — appealed to an older audience last weekend. Roughly 52 percent of the film’s crowd was older than 50.
Argo debuted with slightly lower opening-weekend figures than Affleck’s last directorial effort, The Town. That film started off with $23.8 million and ultimately brought in $92.2 million domestically in 2010. While the Boston crime drama was also beloved by critics, it received a B-plus CinemaScore, indicating Argo may ultimately play better if its strong word of mouth pays off.
Meanwhile, the low-budget horror film Sinister — made for a fraction of what Argo cost — took in a nice $18 million during its first weekend in theaters. (It should be noted, however, that Sinister actually opened at 10 p.m. Oct. 4 in some cities, a few hours before the rest of the weekend’s films.)
Sinister got a dismal Cplus CinemaScore from audiences last weekend, though scary movies often score poorly with opening-weekend crowds. The film stars Ethan Hawke as a crime writer who uncovers an eerie box of home movies.
Comedian Kevin James didn’t have much luck at the box office last weekend, as his new mixed martial arts comedy Here Comes the Boom started off with a ho-hum $11.8 million. James has yet to replicate the success he had as a leading man with 2009’s hit Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Columbia Pictures, which financed Here Comes the Boom for about $42 million, has been trying to build the 47-year-old actor into a comedic draw a la its golden boy, Adam Sandler.
At least those who saw the PG-rated Boom last weekend — a 45 percent family crowd — liked it, assigning it an average grade of A. The movie stars James as a teacher whose school encounters financial issues, so he takes up MMA fighting to help raise money for his employer.
The well-reviewed Seven Psychopaths also did lackluster opening-weekend business, launching with $4.2 million — though it played in roughly 1,500 fewer cinemas than Boom.
The Ayn Rand drama Atlas Shrugged: Part II, which also screened in about 1,000 locations, grossed an even less impressive $1.7 million.
MovieStyle, Pages 36 on 10/19/2012
Print Headline: Taken 2 takes lead for 2nd week