The Baltimore Sun

'Taken' assumes top spot in first $1 billion January

Liam Neeson's CIA thriller Taken bumped off Paul Blart: Mall Cop at the weekend box office, raking in $24.6 million and helping fuel the first $1 billion January in Hollywood history.

North American box office revenues were up nearly 20 percent in January over the same period last year, reaching a record $1.03 billion for the month. Attendance was up 16 percent over last year, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media by Numbers.

"This is exactly how you want to start a year," Dergarabedian said yesterday. "I think people feel movies are a good value for their dollar."

Taken follows Neeson as a former CIA operative trying to track down a group of kidnappers who want to sell his daughter into the sex-slave trade.

"We are thrilled. It's an all-audience movie," said 20th Century Fox distribution executive Bert Livingston. "I think it's going to play for a long time."

Paul Blart: Mall Cop, the Kevin James comedy about a clumsy security guard, had been No. 1 the previous two weeks. Although it dropped to second place, it earned $14 million to boost its three-week total to more than $83 million.

Also opening this weekend was The Uninvited, a remake of the 2003 South Korean thriller that pits two sisters against their potentially evil stepmother. It earned $10.5 million for third place. In fourth was Hotel for Dogs with $8.7 million, followed by Gran Torino with $8.6 million. Slumdog Millionaire was sixth with $7.7 million.

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