February 27, 2011 / 5:39 PM / 6 years ago

"Gnomeo & Juliet" climbs to top of box office

<p>Musician Elton John performs at the premiere of Gnomeo &amp; Juliet in Hollywood, California on January 23, 2011.Jason Redmond</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Disney's "Gnomeo & Juliet" jumped two spots to land at the top of the North American box office on Sunday in a slow period when most moviegoers focused on the world's biggest movie awards, Hollywood's Oscars.

"Gnomeo & Juliet," a 3-D animated family film that has generated generally good reviews, pulled in $14.2 million in movie ticket sales, beating newcomer comedy "Hall Pass," starring Owen Wilson, which landed in the No. 2 spot with $13.4 million, according to film studio estimates on Sunday.

Rounding out the top three was the thriller "Unknown," starring Liam Neeson as a man who must reclaim his identity. It dropped two places after hitting the top spot last weekend, pulling in $12.4 million.

The weekend totals were down even compared to the sluggish last President's Holiday weekend and were notable because "Gnomeo" managed to pull off a rare feat, rising to No. 1 in its third weekend after opening. It landed in the No. 3 spot last Sunday, but rose to second by the end of the four-day weekend.

The comedy about garden gnomes did not drop as much in sales in its second weekend or third weekend as is usual for a major studio release. Boosted by audience ratings, last weekend it had a three-day total of $19.5 million, dropping little more than $5 million in sales by Sunday, enough to claim the top spot.

The No. 4 movie was "Just Go With It," starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, holding its position from last week with sales estimated at $11.1 million.

Suspense thriller "I Am Number Four," followed closely behind at $11 million in ticket sales, while "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" held its position at No. 6 with an estimate of 9.2 million in sales by Sunday, dropping about 31 percent in sales in its third weekend after opening.

"The King's Speech," a favorite to win best film at the 83rd Academy Awards held on Sunday in Los Angeles, held the No. 7 spot from last weekend, pulling in $7.6 million. Its total domestic revenues is now $114.5 million after 14 weeks.

Martin Lawrence's comedy "Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son" dropped three places to No. 8 while the weekend's other major release, "Drive Angry," an action film starring Nicolas Cage, had a disappointing opening weekend, landing at No. 9 with $5.1 million in sales.

Rounding out the top 10 was another Oscar hopeful, The Coen Brothers' "True Grit," which climbed back into the top 10 with $1.9 million in sales and a total domestic revenue of $167.1 million.

Editing by Eric Beech and Bill Trott

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