Aging stars had a great weekend at the box office. Liam Neeson — who somehow stole Samuel L. Jackson's shine as Hollywood's favorite unlikely action hero — enjoys the top spot this weekend for The Grey, which exceeded expectations and took home $20 million.
Meanwhile, Tom Cruise went from couch-jumping career suicide to comeback story with Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol, which grossed $200 million domestically and $571 million globally, making the fourth M:I film the most profitable yet.
While Kate Beckinsale (Underworld: Awakening) and Katherine Heigl (One for the Money) duked it out for second and third place, respectively, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard's Red Tails swooped in for the fourth slot, defying the expectations of critics that predicted a crash after it's surprisingly successful opening weekend.
And of the nine Oscar contenders at the multiplex, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close took the most cake, grossing $7.1 million in an expanded release. The film opened in six theaters on Christmas Day but waited until Oscar nominations were announced to expand onto 2,630 screens, which proved to be a good gamble. No doubt Viola Davis's continuous red carpet presence this awards season is giving ELIC a boost.
Next week, Taraji P. Henson and Michael Clark Duncan's sports drama From the Rough battles a trio of horror flicks — The Innkeepers, Chronicle and The Woman in Black — for the box-office buck.
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(Photo: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Pictures)