Over the weekend, Taken 2 took the box-office crown with $50 million, one of the highest grossing October weekends of all time. It was also one of the more inexcusably awful movies in recent memory, and it makes very little sense given the time they had to work on a sequel, the talent involved, and the money at stake. It’s not as though the original Taken was particularly high-brow, but Neeson and Luc Besson had an opportunity to turn it into a legitimately decent franchise had they bothered to improve on the original instead of replicating it, dumbing it down, and packing it full of thin characters and implausible situations. Neeson is better than this.
It won’t stop Taken 2 from entering the top ten among the highest-grossing revenge films of all time, however, although it’s not likely to have the kind of legs that would make it a shoo-in for a trilogy. I suspect it’ll end up with around $110 million, around $35 million less than the first one, which is itself the third most successful revenge film of all time.
Given the popularity of revenge themes, how satisfying a good revenge flick can be, and the opportunities for enjoyable violence, I suspected there’d be more $100 million revenge films on this list, but I suppose the American public is not as compelled by those themes as some of us (nor the violence).
Here are the 10 most successful revenge films at the box office, using only films categorized as “revenge” by Box Office Mojo.
10. Braveheart — $75 million
9. Man on Fire — $77 million
8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — $78 million
7. Payback — $81 million
6. Mystic River — $90 million
5. The Italian Job — $106 million
4. Taken 2 — $120 million (est.)
3. Taken — $145 million
2. Quantum of Solace — $168 million
1. Gladiator — $187 million
Again, using only the films listed as “revenge” films by Box Office Mojo, here’s my unofficial ranking of the ten best revenge films of all time and their box-office grosses in North America.
1. Oldboy — $707,000
2. Kill Bill 1/2 — $70 million/$66 million
3. The Crow — $50 million
4. Braveheart — $75 million
5. V for Vendetta — $70 million
6. Desperado — $25 million
7. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — $78 million
8. Gladiator — $187 million
9. Commando — $35 million
10. Hanna — $40 million
Meanwhile, last week’s top movie, Hotel Transylvania, dipped just 38 percent to $26 million and landing in second place, bringing its total to over $75 million after 10 days. The success of Hotel Transylvania is also part of the reason why Tim Burton’s well-reviewed Frankenweenie failed to make much a dent in the box office, as the stop-motion film only mustered $11.5 million at the box office, guaranteeing that it will be another unsuccessful Tim Burton outing following last summer’s Dark Shadows.
The good news, however, is that Pitch Perfect — which expanded nationally this weekend — landed in third place with a solid $14 million, bringing its total to $21 million, and ensuring it will likely end its run around $50 million. Pretty great for an a capella competition film with no bona fide Hollywood stars (I caught it this weekend, myself, and agree with Joanna’s review: It’s outstanding, and awesomely fun).
Looper put up another $12 million in its second weekend, and it looks headed toward $75 million, a solid gross for a complex sci-fi time travel film with a $30 million budget.