EuropaCorp’s thriller starring Liam Neeson as the protective family man with a very particular set of skills stormed to the top on an estimated $50m through Fox in what EuropaCorp sources called the biggest launch of a French film at the US box office.

This was more than double the late January 2009 launch of the original, which debuted at number one on $24.7m or $26.5m when adjusted for inflation. Neeson reprises his role alongside on-screen family Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace. This time the action switches from Paris to Istanbul.

The launch helped overall box office take roughly 35% more than the comparable weekend in 2011. There was not much joy however for Tim Burton’s animation Frankenweenie after it opened in fifth place through Buena Vista on a lacklustre $11.5m.

Sony’s Hotel Transylvania slipped to second place in its second weekend and surged to $76m thanks to an estimated $26.3m haul. It stands at more than $105m worldwide factoring in the early $29.3m international tally.

Universal’s comedy Pitch Perfect climbed three places to number three in its second weekend as $14.7m propelled the early score to $21.6m, while Endgame Entertainment’s sci-fi thriller Looper, released by FilmDistrict in association with TriStar, fell two places to number four on $12.2m for $40.3m.

Exclusive Media’s Los Angeles-set police thriller End Of Watch stands at $32.8 in sixth place after three weekends through Open Road and The Weinstein Company’s The Master held firm in ninth place in its fourth weekend, adding $1.8m for $12.3m.

Summit Entertainment’s teenage angst drama The Perks Of Being A Wallflower ranked eleventh and added $1.5m through Lionsgate in its third weekend for $3.3m. Constantine’s sci-fi horror Resident Evil: Retribution slipped out of the top ten in its fourth weekend and stands at $41m to rank as the second lowest in the five-strong series so far.

In the limited arena, comedic drama The Oranges starring Leighton Meester, Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener and Adam Brody opened through ATO Pictures on $180,000 from 110 sites, while Millennium Entertainment released Cannes entry The Paperboy starring Zak Efron, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack and Nicole Kidman on $110,000 from 11 sites.

Magnolia release the horror anthology V/H/S on $40,000 from 15, Roadside Attractions released documentary Escape Fire on $26,000 from 12 and Producers Distribution Agency opened Eugene Jarecki’s documentary The House I Live In on $19,700 from two sites.

Oscilloscope Laboratories opened Wuthering Heights on $8,800 from a single screen. Drafthouse Films release the 1971 cult Australia horror film Wake In Fright on $6,700 from a single screen.

Next weekend’s wide releases are Warner Bros’ thriller Argo directed by and starring Ben Affleck; Sony’s comedy Here Comes The Boom with Kevin James; Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate’s horror Sinister starring Ethan Hawke; CBS Films’ ensemble crime tale Seven Psychopaths with Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Colin Farrell; and Atlas Distribution’s drama Atlas Shrugged: Part II.

Estimated Top 10 North America Oct 5-7 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Taken 2 (Fox/EuropaCorp) Fox Int’l / EuropaCorp $50m –

2 (1) Hotel Transylvania (Sony) SPRI $26.3m $76m

3 (6) Pitch Perfect (Universal) UPI $14.7m $21.6m

4 (2) Looper (TriStar) FilmNation $12.2m $40.3m

5 (-) Frankenweenie (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $11.5m –

6 (3) End Of Watch (Open Road) Exclusive $4m $32.8m

7 (4) Trouble With The Curve (Warner Bros) WBPI $3.9m $29.7m

8 (5) House At The End Of The Street (Relativity) FilmNation $3.7m $27.5m

9 (9) The Master (TWC) TWC $1.8m $12.3m

10 (7) Finding Nemo 3D (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $1.6m $38.9m