Box Office Briefs: Liam Neeson K.O.'s the Competition

Box Office Briefs: Liam Neeson K.O.'s the Competition

Feb 22, 2011

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.

Good stuff.

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

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