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Posted at 10:10 PM ET, 02/20/2011

Weekend box office: 'Unknown' wins, 'I Am Number Four' is actually No. 2

By Jen Chaney

Liam Neeson and Frank Langella in "Unknown." (Warner Bros.)

Cast Liam Neeson as the defiant leading man in a thriller, then schedule it to be released in theaters in February. Know what you have? A box office success.

More on what that means (hint: it involves "Unknown" being the number one movie in the country), along with the usual congratulations, condolences and the list of the weekend's top five films in this week's box office rundown.

Congratulations to...

Liam Neeson: His "Unknown" easily topped the box office with a projected total of $21.7 million. That's only a little less than the $24 million opening Neeson's "Taken" enjoyed around this same time in 2008. February debuts -- especially of the action-thriller variety -- apparently are very good to Neeson.

Animated garden gnomes: The cartoon lawn ornaments of "Gnomeo and Juliet" landed in third place with $19.4 million, only a moderate drop from its performance last weekend. The movie's total now sits at just over $50 million. Given the lack of family movies in theaters, this one should have some staying power, at least until "Rango" shows up in a couple of weeks. It's also easily the most popular gnome movie since that delightful "A Gnome Named Gnorm."

"The King's Speech": In addition to its Best Picture front-runner status, "The King's Speech" also now has more than $100 million to its credit. It passed that box office milestone over the weekend, making it the fourth highest grossing best picture nominee -- behind "Toy Story 3," "Inception" and "True Grit," but ahead of "The Social Network" and "Black Swan."

Condolences to...

Alex Pettyfer and "I Am Number Four": The young-adult sci-fi flick -- which was set up to potentially be the first film in a new franchise -- may have underperformed its way out of a sequel. It landed in second place with $19.5 million, only a tad more than the amount earned by those aforementioned garden gnomes. Meanwhile, news also broke over the weekend that Pettyfer and Dianna Agron, his girlfriend and "Four" co-star, have reportedly ended their relationship. So it was clearly a less than stellar Presidents Day weekend for that guy.

Martin Lawrence: This might be hard to believe, but Lawrence's latest "Big Momma" movie -- "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son" -- got slammed by critics as well as moviegoers. It came in fifth place with $17 million, which may be $16.8 million more dollars than it deserved. In what is easily the most astute piece of box-office analysis so far this year, Box Office Mojo notes that the opening was, "on the low end for a fat-suit comedy."

Justin Bieber: Is there no end to the indignities Bieber must suffer? First he loses the Grammy to Esperanza Spalding. Then, last weekend, his movie, "Never Say Never," lost at the box office to Adam Sandler. Now his biopic has landed in sixth place for the most recent weekend, when it was beaten again by Billy Madison, as well as Liam Neeson, a weak teen-alien movie, the aforementioned cartoon garden gnomes and a terrible "Big Momma's House" sequel that, by the way, didn't even open on the higher end for a fat-suit comedy. "Never Say Never" still has $48.5 million to its credit, though. And that's more than most films that fall in the teen-pop-star-biopic-that-doesn't-involve-fat-suits genre.

Now, without further ado, here are your top five movies of the weekend (based on studio projections), followed by a poll that lets you predict next weekend's winner.

1. "Unknown" -- $21.7 million
2. "I Am Number Four" -- $19.5 million
3. "Gnomeo and Juliet" -- $19.4 million
4. "Just Go With It" -- $18.2 million
5. "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son" -- $17 million

By Jen Chaney  | February 20, 2011; 10:10 PM ET
Categories:  Box Office, Movies  
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Comments

Fabulous News!! I just printed Coupons for free. You can print coupons before you shop at "Printapons" search online.

Posted by: dorismlay | February 21, 2011 2:46 AM | Report abuse

Number Four is Number Two, if you know what I mean.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | February 21, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Liam Neeson in Batman in the shape I loved it. Let's just say he is the Batman I like, so there was no problem with it, just the movies. These new films are far from me somehow. I have not seen Liam's new film. I'm curious about it. Addigis stay in the Batman comics.
http://www.konyv-konyvek.hu/book_images/38a/999639138a.jpg

Posted by: boros1124 | February 22, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

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