Movie audiences discover "Unknown" at box offices

Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:13pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Thriller "Unknown" topped movie box office charts with $21.8 million in ticket sales during a sluggish weekend over the long Presidents Day holiday in the United States.

"Unknown," starring Liam Neeson as a man who must reclaim his identity after finding it stolen when he awakens from a coma, bested another new release, sci-fi adventure "I Am Number Four," which landed in the No. 2 spot with $19.5 million, according to film studio estimates on Sunday.

Animated "Gnomeo & Juliet" rounded out the top three on Sunday, earning $19.4 million for a scant drop of only 23 percent from its debut last weekend. Typically, a major studio release like "Gnomeo" might be expected drop 40-50 percent in its second weekend, but the family film has been helped by generally good critics' reviews and audience ratings.

Box office estimates will likely change by Tuesday when U.S. moviegoers return to work after a long holiday weekend that includes Presidents Day.

By Sunday, the weekend's No. 4 movie was comedy "Just Go With It" starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Its ticket sales dropped 40 percent to $18.2 million from last weekend and now total $60.8 million in the United States and Canada.

Last week's No. 2 movie, "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," a look at the life of teenage singing sensation Bieber, saw a decline of 54 percent and fell to No. 6 with 13.6 million. Its total domestic revenues number $51.7 million after two weeks.

The weekend's other new major release, Martin Lawrence comedy "Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son" claimed the No. 5 spot with a $17 million debut.

Ticket sales for all films in theaters from Friday through Sunday were estimated at $144 million, down around 30 percent from 2010's Presidents Day weekend tally of $204.6 million, according to industry tracker Box Office.   Continued...