Page last updated at 10:43 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

Neeson thriller topples Mall Cop

Liam Neeson in Taken
Liam Neeson's character is looking for a gang of kidnappers

Liam Neeson thriller Taken has ended the reign of comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop at the top of the North American box office chart.

The CIA thriller made $24.6m (17.3m) in its debut weekend, helping towards $1bn January takings for the first time in US cinema history.

Other new entries included The Uninvited, a remake of a South Korean thriller, at number three.

British Oscar hope Slumdog Millionaire was in sixth place.

The Mumbai-based film is moving into a wider release in the US, and has made a total of $67m (47.1m) after 12 weeks in cinemas.

The movie's director, Danny Boyle, won top prize from the Director's Guild of America over the weekend.

1 Taken - $24.6m
2 Paul Blart: Mall Cop - $14m
3 The Uninvited - $10.5m
4 Hotel For Dogs - $8.7m
5 Gran Torino - $8.6m
Source: Media By Numbers

Clint Eastwood's film Gran Torino, which was overlooked in the Oscar nominations, has now made more than $110m (77.4m) to become the actor-director's highest-grossing film to date.

US box office returns in January were up more than 20% compared with the first month of 2008, while numbers of cinema-goers rose by 16%.

Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office analysts Media By Numbers, said: "I think people feel movies are a good value for their dollar. Going to a movie is a habit people aren't willing to break."

"This is exactly how you want to start a year," he added.

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