Neeson thrills at top of the log

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TO Non-Stop

Liam Neeson (pictured) has grounded the The Lego Movie.

The action star’s airliner thriller Non-Stop arrived in first place at the weekend box office, effectively ending the Warner Bros animated film’s three-week blockade at the top spot. The Universal film stars Neeson as a federal air marshal on a doomed flight. Non-Stop ascended in its first weekend with $30 million, according to studio estimates.

“I think the fact that audiences were ready for a suspense thriller had a lot to do with the film’s success, and obviously Liam is an absolute box office draw,” said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. “One of the main reasons people were coming to see the film was Liam.”

Fox’s Son of God debuted closely behind Non-Stop in second place, with $26.5 million.

The film recounts the story of Jesus’ life using footage from the production of History Channel’s 10-part miniseries The Bible.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, noted it was a strong showing because box office predictions for Son of God were wildly varied.

“It’s difficult to track religious- and faith-based films, as we learnt with The Passion of the Christ,” Dergarabedian said.

“If the expectation is that Hollywood should make more movies like this, then the audiences who want these movies have to vote with their dollars. It’s only then that Hollywood will wake up and see this as a viable genre that people will want to see.”

Son of God, which features Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as Jesus, is the first of several religious-themed films set for release this year, including next month’s Noah starring Russell Crowe and Exodus with Christian Bale planned for December.

The Lego Movie, which features the voices of Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks as characters from the block-building toy franchise, came in third place with $21 million in its third weekend, bringing its total domestic haul to $209.3 million.

A few of the contenders up for Oscars at this past Sunday’s 86th annual Academy Awards received a boost at the box office.

Dergarabedian said the box office for 12 Years a Slave was up 72 percent, while Dallas Buyers Club went up by 44 percent over last weekend.

The following is a list of the estimated ticket sales for Friday to Sunday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers are also included:

1. Non-Stop, $30 million.

2. Son of God, $26.5 million

3. The Lego Movie, $21 million.

4. The Monuments Men, $5 million.

5. 3 Days to Kill, $4.9 million.

6. RoboCop, $4.5 million.

7. Pompeii, $4.3 million.

8. Frozen, $3.6 million.

9. About Last Night, $3.4 million.

10. Ride Along, $3 million.

Sapa-AP

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