Action sequel "Taken 3" seized the top spot at the North American box office, ending the three-week reign of fantasy epic "The Hobbit," according to industry estimates Sunday.
The crime thriller starring Liam Neeson in his third stint as retired spy Bryan Mills, who this time must clear his name of a ruthless murder, earned a hefty $40.4 million in its debut weekend, said box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Historical drama Selma, depicting the epic 1965 Alabama march led by Martin Luther King in his battle for equal voting rights, took second place in its wide release debut, earning $11.2 million. The film is nominated for multiple Golden Globe awards -- including "Best Picture" -- with the winners to be announced Sunday night.
In third place this week, Disney's "Into the Woods," the star-studded big-screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical, added $9.8 million to its three-week haul of more than $105 million.
Fantasy epic "The Hobbit" slipped down to fourth place after three weeks in the number one slot.
"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," by Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, is the last of six films adapted from J.R.R Tolkien's books and the third and final installment based on the author's novel "The Hobbit."
It took in $9.4 million over the weekend, for a total of $236.5 million since its release four weeks ago, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Fifth place was occupied by "Unbroken," the Angelina Jolie-directed drama about Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete taken captive by the Japanese during World War II. The movie took in $8.4 million.
"The Imitation Game," about a code-cracking mathematician and logician during World War II, rose to sixth with $7.6 million, beating out "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb," which slipped to seventh.
The family comedy, the third in the Ben Stiller franchise about a museum security guard trying to keep track of exhibits that come to life, took in $6.7 million.