UK Box Office

When Taken debuted in the UK in September 2008 with £1.17m, the Liam Neeson action film proved a surprise word-of-mouth hit with audiences, its box office dropping just 6% the following weekend, and eventually achieving a healthy total of 5.5 times its opening number (£6.39m). The film went on to be a robust performer on DVD. In other words, all the planets looked felicitously aligned for the sequel, and industry expectations for commercial performance were appropriately high.

Even so, the success of Taken 2 has caught commentators by surprise. With £6.19m over the three-day weekend, and £7.38m including Thursday previews, the Istanbul-set film has already grossed more than the entire UK run of the original Taken. If previews are discounted from opening weekend figures (as they should be), Taken 2′s debut has been exceeded by only four films this year: The Dark Knight Rises(£14.36m), Marvel Avengers Assemble(£13.23m), The Amazing Spider-Man (£6.77m) and Prometheus (£6.24m).

In the US, Taken 2 opened with $49.5m (£30.9m), double the original Paris-set film’s debut gross. By rule of thumb, based on the US figure, you would expect a UK opening around £5m for Taken 2, but it’s doing better than that. One likely factor is certification. The original Taken was awarded a 15 for “strong violence and scene of torture”, whereas Taken 2 is 12A for “moderate threat and violence”. Not only does this allow younger teens to attend unaccompanied, but also kids of any age may go accompanied by adults. Expanded, more active roles for Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen – respectively the daughter and ex-wife of Liam Neeson’s former CIA operative – should have helped broaden appeal.

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