Liam Neeson's latest vehicle "The Grey" led a pack of three debuts as they opened among the top 10 most-popular films in North America over the weekend, all with impressive performances.
"The Grey" is projected by distributor Open Road Films to take in 20 million U.S. dollars in ticket sales over Friday-Sunday period, which turned out to be much higher than what the industry watchers have expected. The action thriller, directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Neeson and Dermot Mulroney, raked in 6.5 million dollars when it hit the screen at 3,185 venues on Friday, well ahead of two other debuts -- Lionsgate's "One for the Money" and Summit's "Man on a Ledge."
The R-rated thriller, which is Open Road Films' second release after 2011 action-thriller "Killer Elite," deals with an oil drilling team, led by Neeson, that finds itself hunted by a pack of wolves after their airplane crashes, stranding them in the wilds of Alaska. The film received a "B-" CinemaScore. It costs 25 million dollars to make.
Last week's box office champ, Screen Gems holdover "Underworld: Awakening," saw a steep 51-percent drop, taking in 12.5 million dollars from 3,078 locations, finishing in No. 2 place. It is on track for a 45.1-million dollar gross in two weeks.
Debuting in No. 3 is "One for the Money," which is projected to bag 11.8 million dollars from 2,737 venues. The action-comedy, directed by Julie Anne Robinson and starring Katherine Heigl, Jason O'Mara and John Leguizamo, is based on Janet Evanovich's bestselling novel about Stephanie Plum, a newly divorced woman who goes to work at her cousin's bail-bond business and is sent on the trail of a former boyfriend who turned out now to be a police officer on the run.
Older females, who have been the readers of the popular book, made up the majority, or 79 percent, of the audiences. It also received a "B-" rating from those who have seen it, according to CinemaScore.
Last week's No. 2, "Red Tail," was relegated to the fourth slot this weekend, as Lucasfilm's World War II movie featuring a predominantly African American cast is estimated to rake in 10.4 million dollars for a domestic cume of 33.8 million dollars.
"Man on a Ledge," which stars Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks, opened in fifth place with an estimated and unimpressive 8. 3 million dollars from 2,998 locations. But the action thriller scored the best CinemaScore of the three debuts, a "B+."