Liam Neeson’s The Grey topped the box office over the weekend, scoring an estimated $20 million. The Joe Carnahan man versus nature film has had solid reviews (read ours) and it again shows that Neeson is the go to guy for middle-age action.

The down side is that The Grey’s debut was less than the Irishman’s last action effort Unknown, which opened to $21.8 million, on its way to a final haul of $63 million. It was also less than Neeson and Carnahan’s The A-Team which started with $25 million and closed with $77 million in the summer of 2010. This R-rated flick still has potential and it could outgross the disappointing Unknown – if it holds.

Neeson’s career resurgence as an action man started in 2009 when Taken, surpassed all expectations and opened to $25 million, going on to gross a fantastic $145 million. Not bad for a film which even Neeson believed would go straight to DVD.

Underworld Awakening scored an additional $12.5 million during its second weekend and brought its gross to over $45 million. It’s on track to become the highest grossing entry in the series, besting 2006’s Underworld: Evolution, which topped out at $62 million.

Katherine Heigl’s latest cinematic debacle; One For The Money debuted in third place, grossing an okay $11.7 million – aided in part by a Groupon promotion. This start is down from Heigl’s last few films Life As We Know It ($14 million, on its way to $53 million), Killers (a $15 million start, ending with $47 million), and The Ugly Truth ($27 million, culminating in a $88 million gross).

George Lucas’ Red Tails dipped a little over 50% from last week, banking $10.4 million for a $33.7 million total gross. This is a decent take for a film, which was a tough sell to studios and audiences alike. It will probably top out near the film’s reported $58 million production budget, but it should be profitable once global ticket sales and ancillaries are taken into account.

Sam Worthington’s Man On A Ledge debuted in fifth place grossing an unspectacular $8.3 million. The thriller, which also stars Jamie Bell and Ed Harris has had mixed reviews (read ours) and it proves that even though Worthington has starred in Avatar – the highest grossing film of all time ($77 million opening weekend, $760 million domestic gross, $2.7 billion worldwide), he’s still not a bankable name. He has had hits – Clash of The Titans ($163 million, domestic) and Terminator Salvation ($125 million domestic) but his last film The Debt grossed just $31 million from a $9 million start). Man On A Ledge should close with less. Worthington (or his accountant) must be hoping that Wrath of The Titans reverses this box office decline.

Awards-bait Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close scored $7.1 million for a $21 million haul,  while George Clooney’s Oscar nominated The Descendants grossed $6.55 million over the three days and upped its cume to $58.8 million. The Alexander Payne directed drama is on track to become one of Clooney’s highest grossing (non-Ocean‘s) films, with more to come as the awards season gets into full swing.

Thriller Contraband grossed $6.5 million for a $56.4 cumulative gross and Beauty and The Beast brought in $5.3 million and upped its re-release total to just over $41 million, while Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire shot-up $4 million for a disappointing $15.2 million total.

Outside the top ten Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol crossed $200 million, giving the Tom Cruise vehicle a worldwide gross of over $570 million, making it the highest grossing film in the long-running franchise.

That’s it for now. See you at the movies.

Source: Box Office Mojo