Belfast Telegraph

Liam Neeson's Cold Pursuit has solid box office opening

Liam Neeson in new film Cold Pursuit
Liam Neeson in new film Cold Pursuit
John Barnes
Liam Neeson
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Liam Neeson's latest film has enjoyed a solid opening weekend at the box office in spite of the race row controversy.

Cold Pursuit took around $11m (£8.5m) in the United States, a similar amount to his recent offerings. Doubts were raised over the Ballymena-born star's character and future career after he admitted he once went looking for a black man to kill after a friend was raped.

Some commentators predicted his latest film's takings would suffer and that could mark the end of his action career.

The BBC, however, reported the fallout has not had a dramatic impact on his bankability.

In 2018 Widows took $12.3m (£9.5m) in its opening weekend, with The Commuter taking $13.7m (£10.6m).

Run All Night (2015) took $11m (£8.5m) while Taken 3 (from his most popular franchise) took $39.2m (£30.48m).

Neeson (66) has been widely criticised over his remarks, albeit with a number of high-profile voices coming to his defence.

The actor gave another interview to defend his comments after a red carpet event for Cold Pursuit was cancelled and he pulled out of a US chat show.

He said he was not racist, that the incident happened 40 years ago and he immediately felt ashamed afterwards.

Actress Whoopi Goldberg and ex-England footballer John Barnes have both defended him.

However, Spike Lee, the director of BlacKkKlansman and Malcolm X, was more critical. "People have to understand history. The Ku Klux Klan was formed to 'save' white, Southern womanhood," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

"Who knows how many innocent black men have been murdered, castrated, lynched or harmed or spent time in jail, only because a white woman said, 'That black man raped her'."

Ms Goldberg (63) has known the actor for years.

"People walk around sometimes with rage, that's what happens," she said.

"Is he a bigot? No. I've known him a pretty long time, I think I would have recognised, I've been around a lot of real bigots. I can say this man is not one.

"You can't be surprised that somebody whose loved one is attacked is angry and wants to go out and attack."

Mr Barnes said the portrayal of the debate so far would discourage football fans who have racially abused players in the past from admitting their actions.

"People are now going to be more afraid to come forward and it has to start the conversation as to who has actually done it, without being afraid of coming out and saying 'I can't help it, that's how I was brought up and I was wrong' - but that conversation needs to be had."

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