Will there be a “Taken 3”? The weekend’s $50 million opening box-office blast for "Taken 2" was still resonating Monday, but the Liam Neeson thriller's $67 million in overseas box office is the most powerful argument for a second sequel.
“That’s James Bond and Jason Bourne territory,” said Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations. “I doubt Fox planned on having a franchise with a 60-year-old action hero on their hands, but they’ve got one.”
Fox maintains it hasn't decided yet, but Hollywood’s never been shy about going back to the well, so they’ll get around to it pretty quickly. Whether Liam Neeson wants to stay in the vengeance business is an unknown, too.
“I think it’s a given when you look at those foreign grosses,” Box.office.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino told TheWrap Monday. “It’s all about overseas these days.”
The size of the “Taken 2” domestic opening, which beat the most optimistic projections prior to its bow, doesn’t really change the equation. If it drops off 50 percent in its second weekend and takes in $25 million, it will be at roughly $75 million going into its third. That’s when “Paranormal 4” opens and it is expected to dominate the market, so reaching the $145 million domestic gross of the first film isn’t a given.
But the original “Taken” made $81 million abroad. "Taken 2" should surpass that this weekend and keep on going, and in this day when foreign is what matters most at the box office, that’s the biggest argument for a third film.
Domestically, even sequels that beat the openings of their originals frequently fail to match the final gross of the first films. But that isn't the case with overseas, as Fox knows well from its experience with the "Ice Age" franchise. The last two sequels have hit $700 million overseas, and the second film doubled the take of the original abroad.
“Taken 2” had a production budget of $45 million. Even with, say, $30 million for marketing, it’s already in the black, so Fox will be deciding from a position of strength.