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'Non-Stop' and 'Son of God' Continue 2014 Box Office Roll

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 1, 2014 at 11:24PM

Marking the 14th straight weekend of improved grosses over 2013, two less-heralded new releases scored strong Friday returns. Number one for the day is the French/US co-production "Non-Stop," starring Liam Neeson. Close behind at #2 is "Son of God," a theatrical version of the successful cable miniseries "The Bible" from last year.
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'Son Of God'
'Son Of God'
Liam Neeson in 'Non-Stop'
Liam Neeson in 'Non-Stop'

Marking the 14th straight weekend of improved grosses over 2013 (going back to Thanksgiving), two less-heralded new releases scored strong Friday returns. Number one for the day at $10 million is the French/US co-production "Non-Stop," starring Liam Neeson, with domestic rights acquired by Universal. Close behind at #2 is "Son of God" (Twentieth Century Fox), a theatrical version of the successful cable miniseries "The Bible" from last year, which took in $9.4 million for the day. The top 10 grossed $31 million, up from $26 million last year.

Both new films are initial triumphs for their lead participants. This Oscar weekend seems 180 degrees away from these films' bread-and-butter mainstream elements. "Non-Stop" was co-produced by veteran Joel Silver, who last year terminated a relationship with Warner Bros. that went back decades. Working with StudioCanal, a leading European company, "Non-Stop" replicates the formula that made the two "Taken" films a success -- placing Liam Neeson in a tense life-threatening drama (in this case, as an air marshal on a transatlantic flight) and hiring an established genre-hit European director (Spain's Jaume Collet-Serra) to bring the goods home.

Credit marketing to church-groups and the under-served conservative Christian audience for interest in "Son of God" despite its previous wide viewing on cable and DVD. The film dominated weekend pre-sales. Its gross might be frontloaded, although its A- Cinemascore (shared with "Non-Stop") and possible family interest could make this a tight race for top spot for the weekend. This sort of reworking for theatrical is, if not unprecedented, at least unusual. The nature of the project and the outreach possible allowed for this unique opportunity to add to the major profits already realized by the project (produced by "Survivor" and "The Voice" creator Mark Burnett and actress wife Roma Downey).

These two films bumped three-week #1 "The Lego Movie" (Warner Bros.) to the third spot, with $4.4 million--it should pass $200 million sometime this weekend. The rest of the Top 10 all amassed less than $1.5 million, with "3 Days to Kill" (Relativity) and "Monuments Men" (Sony) virtually tied for #4 for the day (both a little over $1.4 million). Sony's "Pompeii" fell (with a big % drop) to #6, and the same company's "RoboCop" and "About Last Night" took #7 and 8: all three scored a little over $1 million. Long-playing "Ride Along" (Universal) and "Frozen" (Buena Vista) fill out the bottom spots at below a million.

Expanding just before the Oscars, where it likely loses to "Frozen" in the Animated Feature category, "The Wind Rises" (Buena Vista), the English-dubbed Japanese film from Hazao Miyazaki,  did a decent $460,000 in 496 theaters, good for #13 despite its more limited release.


This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office Top Ten, Box Office, The Lego Movie , Liam Neeson, The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki, Son Of God


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.