‘Non-Stop’ tops ‘Son of God’ and ‘Lego Movie’

Liam Neeson appears in a scene from "Non-Stop."
Liam Neeson appears in a scene from “Non-Stop.”
(Universal Pictures / Associated Press)

Mid-flight thriller “Non-Stop,” the latest action movie to star Liam Neeson, flew just higher than “Son of God” to top the box office over the Oscar weekend.

“Non-Stop” grossed a studio-estimated $30 million in ticket sales in the United States and Canada through Sunday, while the New Testament retelling took in $26.5 million. After three weeks at No. 1, “Lego Movie” landed in third place with $21 million in revenue. It has generated $209 million domestically so far.

Released in North America by Universal Pictures, “Non-Stop” stars Neeson as a federal air marshal trying to save a crowded airliner. The movie from Silver Pictures and StudioCanal continues Neeson’s run as an action star with a reliable draw, following successes such as “Taken” and “Taken 2.” “Non-Stop” cost roughly $50 million to make.

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Critics’ reviews have been mixed, but moviegoers didn’t seem to mind, giving it a grade of A-minus, according to the polling film CinemaScore. The audience, which skewed toward the over-25 crowd, was about evenly split between men and women.

“Non-Stop” also stars Julianne Moore, Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o of “12 Years a Slave” and Michelle Dockery, who is best known as Lady Mary Crawley of the period TV drama “Downton Abbey.”

“Son of God,” a retelling of the life of Jesus from husband-and-wife producing team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, performed better than expectations of about $20 million in its opening.

The movie, which stars Diogo Morgado as Jesus, was made out of footage from Burnett and Downey’s hit 10-hour History Channel miniseries “The Bible.” The movie version got its theatrical release from 20th Century Fox.

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Burnett and Downey promoted the film heavily with faith-based audiences, and churches and other religious groups helped build anticipation by purchasing passes in bulk and renting out cinemas.

“The grassroots effort that Mark and Roma undertook to mobilize the faith-based community is truly remarkable, and obviously their efforts have paid off,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox.

Coming a decade after Mel Gibson‘s controversial hit “The Passion of the Christ,” “Son of God” is the first of several Bible-based movies coming to theaters this year, including Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” and Ridley Scott’s “Exodus.”


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“The Monuments Men” came in at No. 4 with $5 million from its fourth weekend. The Kevin Costner thriller “3 Days to Kill” scored $4.9 million, down 60% from its opening last week, to land at No. 5.

Disney’s animated hit “Frozen” hit a milestone Sunday, passing $1 billion in worldwide estimated ticket sales so far. Not adjusting for inflation, the musical is the second-highest-grossing animated movie ever, behind “Toy Story 3,” and is the top animated non-sequel ever. Fourteen weeks into its domestic wide-release run, it remained in the top 10 in the United States and Canada with $3.6 million in sales this weekend.

Paramount Pictures released the R-rated extended version of “Anchorman 2,” generating $1.2 million through Sunday. While that didn’t put the Will Ferrell sequel in the top 10, it brought the comedy’s domestic gross to an estimated $126 million.



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Twitter: @rfaughnder