LOS ANGELES - Liam Neeson's "Taken 2" has defended its box-office title with a narrow win over Ben Affleck's "Argo."
Sunday studio estimates put 20th Century Fox's action sequel "Taken 2" at No. 1 in its second weekend. Affleck's "Argo," an Iranian hostage thriller from Warner Bros., opened in second-place with $20.1 million.
Ethan Hawke's "Sinister," about a true-crime writer caught up in supernatural horror, debuted at No. 3.
Sony's "Here Comes the Boom," with Kevin James as a teacher who becomes a mixed martial arts sensation, started weakly at No. 5 with $12 million.
The weekend's other new wide release, CBS Films' crime comedy "Seven Psychopaths," also opened to small crowds, taking in $4.3 million to finish at No. 9. The movie's ensemble cast includes Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson.
The sequel to "Taken" was dinged by critics, but audiences took to it anyway.
"Argo" may prove the opposite, using its great reviews and Academy Awards buzz to settle in for a long stay at the box office. Affleck directed and starred in the real-life story about a CIA operative who concocts a plan to rescue six Americans hiding in Tehran after the 1979 U.S. embassy takeover by disguising them as members of a fake movie crew.
Revenue on the film ticked up a whopping 47 percent from opening day Friday to Saturday, a sign that audiences were talking it up to friends.
Estimated weekend ticket sales:
1. "Taken 2," $22.5 million
2. "Argo," $20.1 million
3. "Sinister," $18.3 million
4. "Hotel Transylvania," $17.3 million
5. "Here Comes the Boom," $12 million
6. "Pitch Perfect," $9.3 million
7. "Frankenweenie," $7 million
8. "Looper," $6.3 million
9. "Seven Psychopaths," $4.3 million
10. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," $2.2 million