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Affleck’s ‘Argo’ finishes second at box office

“Argo” had to settle for the runner-up position behind Liam Neeson’s “Taken 2,” which ruled the multiplex for the second consecutive weekend and grossed an additional $22.5 million, according to an estimate from distributor 20th Century Fox. That film has now collected a robust $86.8 million, or 62 percent more than the original “Taken” had collected after two weeks in theaters back in 2009.

The Warner Bros. film Affleck directed and stars in, meanwhile, opened with a respectable $20.1 million and performed better than four other new films debuting in wide release. Moviegoers who saw “Argo” this weekend loved it, assigning it a rare A-plus, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

Pundits believe the film, which earned excellent reviews, has a shot at best picture at next year’s Academy Awards - meaning the movie now has a chance at becoming one of the few Oscar nominees that is also a commercial success.

“Commercial films have not always done well with the (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences),” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution, citing best picture winner “The Hurt Locker,” which grossed only $17 million in 2009. “It’s a tricky situation, but this movie fits the bill pretty well and plays to the academy’s core audience.”

According to a Los Angeles Times study published in February, the median age of academy members is 62. And “Argo” — based on the true story of a CIA agent who rescued six U.S. State Department employees from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis — appealed to an older audience this weekend. Roughly 52 percent of the film’s crowd was older than 50.

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