Box Office Briefs: Aliens, Mommas and Liam Nesson

Box Office Briefs: Aliens, Mommas and Liam Nesson

Feb 18, 2011

Alex Pettyfer.

I remember how to spell his name correctly by thinking of stock car legend Richard Petty (sorry, Tom, he was first), then adding a "fer" to it.

But pretty soon, as well it will be for most entertainment writers, the name will probably come pretty naturally, with the British actor set to begin his American invasion this weekend with the debut of Disney/DreamWorks' youth-oriented sci-fi drama I Am Number Four in 3,154 North American theaters.

The $60 million film stars Pettyfer as a young humanoid space alien being hunted by his peeps. His real-life girlfriend Dianna Agron, co-stars in the PG-13-rated movie, which is directed by D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye, Disturbia) and should lead the Presidents Day weekend box office with a predicted gross of over $30 million.

Pettyfer will follow that performance up on March 4 with the CBS Films debut of Beastly, a modern, un-Disney-fied twist on Beauty and the Beast that looked pretty good when CBS showed clips to us journos last year.

Listen, I'm the last guy who can pick what British dude is going to become a female audience draw Stateside, but if Robert Pattinson can do it, this guy has to stand a pretty good chance.

Meanwhile, also opening wide this weekend will be Warner Bros.' Liam Neeson action-thriller Unknown and the Martin Lawrence-in-a-big-latex-suit follow-up Big Momma's: Like Father, Like Son, both of which will look to challenge for second place at the domestic box office with grosses somewhere in the $20 million range.

For it's part, Unknown has the aesthetic feel of Taken, Fox's sleeper hit of two years ago, which starred Neeson as a former CIA operative who rescues his daughter after she falls victim to white-slave traders in Europe.

That film had a hell of a hook -- who didn't want to see it after seeing that trailer in which Neeson tells the kidnapper (and I'm paraphrasing quite a bit), "I have a very specific set of skills" and "I will find you" and "when I do, it's curtains for you, pal."

No one is predicting that the soft-reviewed Unknown will do as well as the $24.7 million premiere of Taken, but who knows.

As for Big Momma's 3, it's hard to figure what market forces convinced Fox that -- after five years -- moviegoers wanted another one of these movies...but for a studio doing its upteenth Planet of the Apes movie, sequels just come naturally, I guess.

To date, the Big Momma's franchise has grossed $310 million worldwide, so that sort of explains it.

With what is predicted to be a fairly decent Presidents Day weekend box office, Adam Sandler movie Just Go With It, which was last weekend's champ, should also challenge for second place, as should Disney's lawn-gnome-themed Shakespeare adaptation Gnomeo and Juliet.

Here's how we think the box office will shape up this weekend:

I Am Number Four We say: $30.0M
Big Momma's : Like Father, Like Son We say: $24.0M
Just Go With It We say: $23.0M
Gnomeo and Juliet We say: $22.0M
Unknown We say: $20.0M
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never We say: $11.0M
The King's Speech We say: $7.5M
The Eagle We say: $5.5M
No Strings Attached We say: $5.0M
The Roommate We say: $4.5M

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