Taken 2, Liam Neeson’s thriller sequel, has topped the US and Canadian box office, taking $50 million, despite a poor reception from critics.
That is double the opening weekend for the original film, which took $24.7 million in 2009.
Last week’s number one, Adam Sandler animation Hotel Transylvania, was at two with $26.3 million.
Glee-style musical Pitch Perfect was in third with $14.7 million, following a limited release last week.
The movie stars Anna Kendrick as a college student trying to liven up her a cappella singing group.
Sci-fi thriller Looper, starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fell from second-place to fourth with $12.2 million.
Tim Burton’s stop motion monster tale Frankenweenie opened in fifth place, taking $11.5 million, after facing competition from rival spooky animation Hotel Transylvania.
Burton’s Disney tale, about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life, is shot in black and white in a homage to classic horror movies.
This week marks another improvement to cinema takings in the US and Canada with totals of $138 million, up 45.5% on the same weekend last year.
Taken 2’s distributors 20th Century Fox said they were surprised by the film’s opening numbers after experiencing a “sluggish market” since the summer.
Chris Aronson from the company said it had “exceeded our expectations”, adding: “The come in at $50 million is really remarkable, and a testament to this character that Liam has created.”
The sequel sees Liam Neeson as a retired CIA agent who gets kidnapped on holiday in Istanbul.
“Most people go to the movies for a certain dose of escapism,” continued Chris Aronson.
“It doesn’t have to be high art. It doesn’t have to be serious and contemplative. They go to the movies to be entertained, and my gosh, that’s what this movie does.”
Despite its relatively modest opening, 2009’s original went on to take more than $227 million around the world, and turned its Irish star into a Hollywood action hero with roles in Clash of the Titans, The A-Team and The Grey.
Los Angeles police are searching for Gavin Smith, a missing movie executive who disappeared on Tuesday.
Gavin Smith, 57, a longtime 20th Century Fox employee, was last seen driving his black 200 Mercedes 420E sedan between 9 and 10 p.m. near his Oak Park family home, according to a police bulletin.
He has worked in the film corporation’s distribution department in Calabasas for nearly 18 years.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department enlisted the public’s help in its search for Gavin Smith, branch manager for theatres in Dallas and Oklahoma City, in a special bulletin distributed on Friday.
Fox distribution president Chris Aronson told The Hollywood Reporter there was no indication of problems that might have led to his disappearance.
“We are very concerned about Gavin. We are actively doing what we can to assist the L.A. Sheriff’s department,” Chris Aronson said.
Los Angeles police are searching for Gavin Smith, a missing movie executive who disappeared on Tuesday
The executive’s son Evan Smith, a basketball player at the University of Southern California, logged on to Twitter to ask the public for help finding his father today.
“Please help me find my Dad. Retweet to get the word out please,” he wrote, with a link to a story about Gavin Smith’s disappearance.
Gavin Smith is described by the sheriff’s department as being 6ft 6in tall and weighing 210 lbs.
He has grey hair with blonde highlights, green eyes and a goatee; he also has a 5in scar on his calf and a 4in scar on his inner right wrist.
Investigators say he was last seen wearing purple pants and black and grey shoes.
The Sheriff’s Department asks that anyone with information contact its Homicide Bureau, Missing Person’s detail.