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Non-Stop takes Lego down a peg

Posted: March 7, 2014 at 2:12 a.m.

Julianne Moore stars as passenger Jen Summers in the suspense thriller Non-Stop. It came in first at last weekend’s box office and made $28.8 million.

Non-Stop, featuring Liam Neeson as a sky marshal battling a ransom-seeking terrorist in-flight, opened as the top-grossing film in U.S. and Canadian cinemas, toppling The Lego Movie from a three-weekend run as No. 1.

The thriller collected $28.9 million in weekend sales, Rentrak Corp. said. Son of God, another retelling of the story of Jesus, was the only other new film in wide release. It placed second with $25.6 million. The Lego Movie, from Warner Bros., took in $20.8 million to place third.

Neeson has demonstrated flair as an action hero since he starred as an ex-CIA agent rescuing his daughter in the January 2009 hit Taken, which took in $227 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. A 2012 sequel produced $376 million.

“Neeson has rebranded himself as the thinking man’s action hero, so he’s filled a void left by Harrison Ford from many years back,” said Gitesh Pandya, chief executive officer at Boxofficeguru.com. “There’s definitely a demand for that.”

Neeson, 61, plays air marshal Bill Marks on a trans-Atlantic flight. He receives text messages demanding he instruct the airline to transfer $150 million into an offshore account. Until he secures the money, a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes.

The picture co-stars Julianne Moore, along with Michelle Dockery from Downton Abbey, and Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Oscar on Sunday for her role in 12 Years a Slave, which took home best film for 2013.

BoxOffice.com, another industry researcher, predicted weekend sales of $28.5 million for Non-Stop. The film cost about $50 million to produce, according to Box Office Mojo, and garnered a 58 percent favorable rating at RottenTomatoes.com, which aggregates reviews from critics.

Son of God brings to the big screen an epic from the team that created The Bible for cable TV’s History Channel, including the writers and producer Mark Burnett. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado plays Jesus as the film covers his birth, teachings, crucifixion and resurrection.

Son of God marks the first motion picture about Jesus’ life since The Passion of the Christ 10 years ago, according to the film’s website. That movie, from director Mel Gibson, generated $612 million in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo. And in 1988 Martin Scorsese made the controversial The Last Temptation of Christ, which opened to mixed reviews.

BoxOffice.com predicted $17.5 million in weekend sales. The film attracted favorable ratings of 22 percent from critics at Rottentomatoes.com, while 83 percent of fans like it.

The Monuments Men, directed by and starring George Clooney, moved up one place, to fifth, with $4.9 million of sales for Columbia, according to Rentrak Corp.

Also starring Matt Damon and Bill Murray, the film is based on the true story of a World War II platoon comprising museum directors and curators who rescued art trapped behind enemy lines.

3 Days to Kill, featuring Kevin Costner, fell to fourth place from second with sales of $4.9 million for the independent studio Relativity Media LLC.

Costner plays an international spy, Ethan Renner, who is giving up his life of intrigue to build a closer relationship with his estranged daughter.

MovieStyle, Pages 34 on 03/07/2014

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