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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Martin Scorsese's suspense thriller "Shutter Island" led the North American box office for a second consecutive weekend on Sunday, while "Avatar" was the top choice internationally for an 11th weekend.
A pair of newcomers, the comedy "Cop Out" and horror remake "The Crazies," outperformed expectations to join "Shutter Island" on the podium.
A week before the Academy Awards are handed out in Hollywood, limited-release nominees such as "Crazy Heart" and "The Young Victoria" pulled in some moviegoers.
"Shutter Island" sold $22.2 million worth of tickets across the United States and Canada during the three days beginning Friday, taking its 10-day haul to $75.1 million, distributor Paramount Pictures said.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who has collaborated three other times with Scorsese, stars in the picture as a federal marshal stranded at a prison hospital for the criminally insane off the coast of Massachusetts in 1954.
The picture's $41 million debut last weekend set personal bests for both Scorsese and DiCaprio. It could have been an Oscar contender this year if the cash-strapped Viacom Inc unit had not delayed its release by four months.
"Cop Out," which stars Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as a pair of New York City cops, opened at No. 2 with $18.6 million, Warner Bros. Pictures said. Overture Films' conspiracy thriller, "The Crazies," an update of a 1973 George Romero picture, followed with $16.5 million. Both films had been targeting openings in the low- to mid-teen millions.
Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc, said "Cop Out" played strongly in urban markets. Snowstorms on the East Coast reduced the haul by as much as $500,000, it added.
The film, budgeted in the mid-$30 million range, was directed by Kevin Smith, who was in the news recently after getting booted off an airline flight for being too fat.
"The Crazies," shot for $19 million, stars Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell in the tale of a virus that infects residents of a rural town. The film marks a comeback of sorts for its director, Breck Eisner, whose feature debut "Sahara" was a costly flop in 2005.
Overture recently said it was slowing down production while the three-year-old studio and its Liberty Media Corp parent weighed options for a financial restructuring, including a possible sale.
"Avatar" slipped one place to No. 4 with $14 million, taking the total for James Cameron's sci-fi spectacular to $706.9 million. It has now surpassed Cameron's previous record-holder "Titanic" by more than $100 million, thanks to higher ticket prices. Foreign sales rose to $1.84 billion, taking the worldwide total to $2.55 billion.
The 20th Century Fox release will vie for nine Oscars next Sunday, tied at the front of the Oscar field with "The Hurt Locker," which is already out on DVD.
The only other Oscar contender in the top 10 was "Crazy Heart," which fell two places to No. 10 with $2.5 million. The total for the Fox Searchlight release stands at $25.1 million. Its three nominations include best actor for front-runner Jeff Bridges, who played a washed-up country star. Fox and Fox Searchlight are units of News Corp.
Elsewhere, "The Young Victoria" passed the $10 million mark after a $221,000 weekend on 187 theaters. Emily Blunt received a nomination for her lead role as Queen Victoria. The drama was released by closely held Apparition Films.
Sandra Bullock is considered the favorite to win that race for her role as a driven football mom in "The Blind Side," which earned $1.3 million during the weekend. The Warner Bros. release has scored $248.8 million to date.
Paramount's "Up in the Air," with six nominations, earned $835,000 to take its total to $82.1 million.
Editing by Paul Simao and Eric Walsh