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Unknown Movie Box Office: Liam Neeson Thriller Not to Reprise Taken Success

Unknown movie Liam NeesonUnknown movie with Liam Neeson: This past weekend’s top domestic box office title has no chance of matching the success of Neeson’s previous thriller, the sleeper hit Taken.
  • Unknown movie box office: Liam Neeson, the early 21st century’s most unexpected action star, is at the center of Jaume Collet-Serra’s thriller that has opened with no-more-than-okay numbers in the domestic market. Chances of Unknown matching the success of Neeson’s previous thriller, Pierre Morel’s sleeper global hit Taken, are nil.

Unknown movie box office: Latest Liam Neeson thriller tops domestic chart but no chance of matching Taken success

Feb. 18–20 (Presidents’ Day) weekend box office: Starring Liam Neeson, Jaume Collet-Serra’s U.S./German action-thriller Unknown was the no. 1 movie at the anemic North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office, grossing $21.9 million from 3,043 theaters according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

Once Monday (Feb. 21), Presidents’ Day, is included, Unknown has reached $25.5 million. Production budget: $30 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses).

For comparison’s sake: Also starring Liam Neeson, Pierre Morel’s $25 million action-thriller Taken debuted with $24.7 million (around $26 million today) from 3,183 North American sites in late January 2009. A sleeper hit, the French production went on to gross an impressive $145 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to $81.8 million elsewhere.

International prospects are unclear, but there’s no chance Unknown will be nearly as successful as Taken in the domestic market.

Besides Academy Award nominee Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, 1993) as a biochemist/former comatose patient out to prove his identity after no one – including his own wife – seems to recognize him, Unknown features January Jones as the wife, Diane Kruger as a taxi driver/Bosnian immigrant who partners up with the biochemist, Aidan Quinn, Sebastian Koch, Stipe Erceg, Oscar nominee Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, 2008), and veteran Bruno Ganz (The American Friend, Downfall).

Far more modest performer than Taken – yet still profitable

Update: The Liam Neeson action-thriller Unknown ultimately collected a disappointing $63.7 million domestically and a somewhat better $72 million internationally. Worldwide total: $135.7 million – hardly a sleeper hit à la Taken, but a solidly profitable venture all the same.

Unknown’s top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($10.6 million), France ($8.9 million), Germany ($6.6 million), Australia ($5.8 million), Spain ($5.1 million), Mexico ($4.5 million), South Korea ($3.5 million), and Italy ($2.3 million).


Unknown Movie Box Office: Liam Neeson” endnotes

Directed by D.J. Caruso and starring Alex Pettyfer, the sci-fi thriller I Am Number Four opened at a disappointing no. 2 this past Presidents’ Day weekend. John Whitesell’s crime comedy Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, featuring Martin Lawrence and Brandon T. Jackson, opened at no. 5.

Unless otherwise noted, “Unknown Movie Box Office: Liam Neeson Thriller Not to Reprise Taken Success” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about Unknown and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.

Liam Neeson Unknown movie image: Warner Bros.

Unknown Movie Box Office: Liam Neeson Thriller Not to Reprise Taken Success” last updated in November 2022.

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