"Taken 2" wins the weekend box office

Liam Neeson in a scene from "Taken 2." AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Magali Bragard

Despite what the critics have to say about "Taken 2," the film drew large audiences on its opening weekend, topping the box office with $50 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The action-sequel starring Liam Neeson doubled the haul of "Taken," which took in $24.7 million in its U.S. debut in early 2009.

"Taken" went on to become a $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," the actor 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.

"Taken 2," which began rolling out overseas a weekend earlier, added $55 million more in about 50 international markets to raise its worldwide total to $117 million.

The previous weekend's No. 1 movie at the U.S. box office, Adam Sandler's animated hit "Hotel Transylvania," dropped to second-place with $26.3 million. The Sony release raised its domestic total to $76 million, and it has taken in $29.3 million overseas for a worldwide haul of $105.3 million.

Expanding into nationwide release after a limited debut a week earlier, Universal's music tale "Pitch Perfect" moved up to third-place with $14.7 million. The movie stars Anna Kendrick as a college freshman spicing things up for her a cappella singing squad.

Sony's sci-fi thriller "Looper," starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fell from second-place to fourth with $12.2 million, lifting its domestic haul to $40.3 million.

Tim Burton's animated monster tale "Frankenweenie" had a slow start, taking in $11.5 million to round out the top-five. The Disney release is an update of Burton's 1984 live-action short film, about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life.

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