Something about Liam Neeson playing dark roles…it works for the guy.
Two years after his take as the vengeful former-CIA-agent dad in the thriller Taken generated a surprise early-year sleeper hit for Fox, Neeson was back this weekend in Warner's noir-ish Unknown, playing a poor guy whose identity gets snagged after he goes into a coma.
The film was the No. 1 movie at the box office over the four-day Presidents Day holiday, grossing an estimated $22.0 million.
Other than that, the holiday sort of blew at the multiplex, with a two-week-old Disney kiddie movie -- the CG-animated Gnomeo & Juliet -- finishing in third place with $19.4 million in receipts (it made some sense, given that there's just no other G-rated fare to take the kids to right now).
To be sure, while Unknown provided a nice surprise, earning about $5 million more than expected, there were two serious disappointments at the box office.
Most notably, Disney and DreamWorks' teen-targeted sci-fi drama I Am Number Four -- which stars Brit actor Alex Pettyfer as a space alien living on Earth and on the lamb from his own kind -- did about $8 million less than expected, coming in light at the box office with only about $19.4 million.
You wonder why the studios don't market movies without numerals after them? This is why -- it's just tough to sell an original, non-sequel concept at the movie theater.
Oh, scratch that -- it can be tough to sell sequels, too, especially ones that nobody really wanted to see get made in the first place.
Martin Lawrence's third movie in a big latex fat-woman's costume, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son -- which featured up-and-comer Brandon T. Jackson dressing in drag, too -- grossed only $16.3 million, about $6 million less than expected.
So it went on a President's Day weekend box office that was about 30 percent smaller overall than last year's record breaking $240 million frame.
Here's how the top 10 fared compared to our Thursday predictions:
|Unknown ||Made: $22.0M ||We predicted: $20.0M |
|Gnomeo & Juliet ||Made: $19.4M || We predicted: $22.0M|
| I Am Number Four ||Made: $19.1M ||We predicted: $30.0M|
| Just Go With It ||Made: $18.4M ||We predicted: $23.0M|
| Big Mommas ||Made: $16.3M ||We predicted: $24.0M|
| Justin Bieber: Never Say Never ||Made: $13.3M ||We predicted: $11.0M|
| The King's Speech ||Made: $6.5M ||We predicted: $7.5M|
| The Roommate ||Made: $3.9M ||We predicted: $4.5M|
| The Eagle ||Made: $3.6M ||We predicted: $5.5M|
| No Strings Attached ||Made: $3.0M ||We predicted: $5.0M|