Weekend Box Office: ‘Number Four’ = Number Two

This weekend saw a number of big budget Hollywood movies invade the multiplexes. The thinking is that, with the kids off from school for winter break and most parents having at least Monday off, President’s Day weekend can be a new wintertime Fourth of July. (Remember all those ‘Percy Jackson‘ billboards last year that simply said, “President’s Day”?) Unfortunately for the studios, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the movies will bring in Fourth of July numbers, no matter how much marketing money they throw in the public’s direction.

Somewhat surprisingly, the above-average Euro-trash thriller ‘Unknown‘ (starring Liam Neeson and my future wife January Jones) took the top spot with $21.7 million for the weekend and an estimated $26 million for the holiday. I’m a sucker for slickly-made entertainments like this, so I’m very happy that audiences across the country had as much fun. Supposedly, the success of this film will secure Joel Silver’s Dark Castle genre banner for at least a few more movies. (Dark Castle has put out similarly smart stuff like ‘Splice‘, ‘House of Wax‘, and the sorely underrated ‘Ninja Assassin‘.)

I Am Number Four‘ came in at, errr… #2. It grossed $19.5 million for the weekend and $21 million for the holiday. When I saw this movie a few weeks ago, the crowd ate it up with a side of bacon (at least the sliver of the screening room that wasn’t chock full of grumpy critics like yours truly). They were particularly involved in the movie’s hyperactive finale, in which a small dog transforms into a heroic space beast. (I talked to the film’s director, D.J. Caruso, and told him that plush versions of the dog-monster should be sold in movie theater lobbies.) But it seems like people might have been confused as to what, exactly, the movie is. (That title is a dog all its own.) Or maybe they’re worn out by the ‘Twilight’-fication of cinema, even if this is the first of that ilk.

The weekend’s other big debut was ‘Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son‘, the third film in the unfathomably popular ‘Big Momma’ series that stars Martin Lawrence as an FBI Agent who has to go undercover while wearing a sexist fat suit. It clocked in at #5 with $17 million for the weekend, and $20 million for the holiday. Maybe America has finally grown tired of the series (especially after the merciless and incessant ridicule of it on ’30 Rock’?). It should plummet next weekend, for sure.

Last weekend’s top grossers ‘Just Go With It‘ (with Adam Sandler, Nicole Kidman, and Jennifer Aniston) and ‘Gnomeo & Juliet‘ (in THREEE-DEEE), swapped places. ‘Gnomeo’ showed surprising staying power at #3 ($19.4 million weekend, $25 million holiday). This is not too shabby, given the tortured production process on this movie, which has lasted the better part of a decade and seen a small army of contributors board and then exit the project. Talk about a fairy tale ending!

‘Just Go With It’ dropped to #4 with a still respectable $18.2 million weekend ($21 million holiday).

The King’s Speech‘, the only-okay historical drama that’s about to sweep the Oscars, has finally crossed the vaulted $100 million mark. It had a weekend total of $6.4 million and a holiday total of $8 million. Meanwhile, ‘The Eagle‘, which has its problems but is still fun, dropped nearly out of the list altogether. At #9, it made just $3.5 million over the weekend and $4.2 million for the holiday.

It may not be the Fourth of July, but people still showed up. Some of them, at least.

The Top 10:

01 ‘Unknown’ (Warner Bros) – $21.7 million weekend/$26 million holiday

02 ‘I Am Number Four’ (DreamWorks/Disney) – $19.5 million/$21 million

03 ‘Gnomeo & Juliet’ (Disney) – $19.4 million/$25 million

04 ‘Just Go With It’ (Sony) – $18.2 million/$21 million

05 ‘Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son’ (Fox) – $17 million/$20 million

06 ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (Paramount) – $13.6 million/$16.8 million

07 ‘The King’s Speech’ (Weinstein Company) – $6.5 million/$8 million

08 The Roommate’ (Sony) – $4.1 million/$4.7 million

09 ‘The Eagle’ (Universal) – $3.5 million/$4.2 million

10 ‘No Strings Attached’ (Paramount) – $3.1 million/$3.8 million

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