The Irish were laughing all the way to the bank on the weekend Hollywood saluted the latest batch of Oscar winners.
And right on his tail is Derry born Roma Downey as her ‘Son of God’ movie followed in second spot.
Neeson’s latest pic, Universal’s ‘Non-Stop’, took in an estimated $30 million in its opening frame, according to Variety magazine.
That was enough to beat Fox’s ‘Son of God’ with $26.5 million and Warner Bros.’ former box office champ ‘The Lego Movie,’ which grossed $21 million through Sunday.
The report adds that the domestic box office in America saw a healthy injection, up more than 15 percent over this same weekend last year when the top grosser was ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ with $27 million.
Warner and Village Roadshow’s ‘The Lego Movie’ dropped out of the top spot for the first time in four weeks.
The Variety website says the hit toon had enough momentum to surge past $200 million at the domestic box office.
It added, “The limited drop for ‘Lego’ this weekend is impressive considering both ‘Non-Stop’ and ‘Son of God’ dipped into the toon’s core demos - adult men and families - the latter, though, attracting a concentrated family segment of Christian auds [audiences].”
Variety says that while ‘Non-Stop’ earned a sizable portion of its opening from men, the film actually played slightly better with women, contributing 51% of the debut gross. The film did skew mostly toward adult audiences, with 65% over 25.
Universal's head of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco said, “Kudos to our marketing department, who completely nailed it, and kudos to producer Joel Silver for casting Liam, who has - let’s face it - become quite a sensation at the box office.”
‘Non-Stop’ cost $50 million to produce by StudioCanal and Joel Silver. Alex Heineman and Andrew Rona co-produced along with Silver. The film received a solid ‘A-’ CinemaScore.
Variety says that Fox gave Roma Downey’s ‘Son of God’ a significant push in the Latino markets, even going so far as to release a Spanish-language dubbed version of the film at 200-plus locations. The film ultimately earned 22% of its opening weekend from Hispanic audiences.
‘Son of God’ is a pared-down version of Mark Burnett and Downey’s 10-hour miniseries ‘The Bible,’ which aired last March on History to an average of 15 million-plus viewers for its five two-hour instalments.
The website says the film version runs two hours and 15 minutes and is a complete re-edit of the Jesus storyline from the mini, with supplemental outtakes.
The film scored an above average 80% rating among audiences who would definitely recommend the film, according to polls taken over two days.
It adds that ‘Son of God’ sold roughly $5 million worth of advanced tickets, including $1.2 million for Thursday shows. Without those added to the opening day gross, the film actually was up 13% on Saturday.
Fox distribution topper Chris Aronson said, “I don’t feel this film is frontloaded in any way.
“If you look back to faith-based films, which played in this corridor, they all tend to have long tails.”
Here’s the trailers: