He was late to the party in the action hero stakes, but it looks like Liam Neeson is now officially one of the biggest action (and otherwise) stars in the world. The actor will pocket an up-front $20 million fee for Taken 3.
It’s really not a surprise. The first Taken scored $226 million at the worldwide box office ($145 million in the US), even though most of those involved with the film (including Neeson) believed it would go straight-to-DVD. Taken 2 surpassed the original (despite terrible reviews), banking $379 million globally ($139 million US).
At the time of Taken 2’s release Neeson said that there wouldn’t be a Taken 3 – but it looks like he just couldn’t turn down that pay packet. The 61-year old Irish star scored over $25 million for Taken 2, getting $15 million up-front and a serious portion of the back-end – he picked up just $2 million for the first film.
These are serious paydays in a time when most stars have had to cut their up-front fees, with the likes of Schwarzenegger and Stallone getting somewhere between $8-10 million per film – a far cry from the halcyon days of the $25 million salary.
Taken was a decent (if dumb) actioner, but Taken 2 was atrocious, it appeared to have been produced by people who didn’t know what made the first movie work.
Filming is expected to start in February 2014, with Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen once again scripting the action, while it’s believed Taken 2 director Olivier Megaton will return to choreograph the chaos.
If the law of diminishing returns continues then Taken 3 will be beyond unwatchable.