Neeson keeps thieving in first!

Liam Neeson’s criminal activity remained on top of the expectedly modest box office as HONEST THIEF collected an estimated $2.3 million over its second weekend.

The PG-13 thriller, with Neeson as a bank robber (with a particular set of skills) who tries to go legit, dropped by 35% from its wide US release last weekend, after a limited Canadian release before that.

The action movie, also featuring Jai Courtney and Kate Walsh, now has a domestic total of $7.5 million, and an extra $2.7 million from overseas gives it a worldwide total of $10.2 million.

In second place was the family comedy THE WAR WITH GRANDPA with $1.8 million on its third weekend, bringing the PG-rated Robert De Niro prank battle to a domestic total of $9.7 million and a worldwide total of $12.1 milion.

The PG-13 tech thriller TENET was in third place with $1.3 million, now on its ninth weekend in North American release. Filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s $200 million action epic is up to a domestic total of $52.5 million and $342 million worldwide.

It seems that some releases have seen benefits from the trend of “private watch parties”, where cinema chains will rent out an entire theater to a group (of fewer than 20 moviegoers) for a $100-$150 cost.

Opening in fourth place was the new R-rated horror movie THE EMPTY MAN with $1.26 million for the weekend as it came creeping onto 2000 screens.

Adapted from a Boom! comic series, the supernatural thriller with James Badge Dale investigating sinister activities was released by the (now) Disney-owned 20th Century Studios.

Disney controlled the middle of the chart with a cluster of catalog titles pushed back onto screens for the Halloween season.

The PG-rated stop-motion whimsy of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS was in fifth place with $577,000, giving the 1993 Henry Selick/Tim Burton animated feature a running domestic total of $77 million. The reissue of 1993 horror-comedy HOCUS POCUS followed in sixth place with $530,000 for a cumulative domestic total of $43.6 million.

In seventh place was the re-release of Pixar’s beloved MONSTERS, INC. with $494,000 on 1875 screens. The G-rated movie, with John Goodman and Billy Crystal voicing the top scream-producing workers of Monstropolis, has a domestic total of $290 million including its original 2001 release (and 3D conversion in 2012).

Filling out the list was the teen drama AFTER WE COLLIDED (which has a worldwide total of $38.3 million), the romantic drama 2 HEARTS, and the  X-MEN spinoff THE NEW MUTANTS hanging on at the bottom.

Russell Crowe’s road-rage thriller UNHINGED departed the chart before it motors onto VOD next month.

Next weekend’s new release is the Kevin Costner/Diane Lane thriller LET HIM GO, along with whatever else the studios dig up from their archives to put in whatever theaters and drive-ins are still open.

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