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First Look: 'Unknown' is surprise leader on Presidents Day weekend so far

February 20, 2011 | 10:37 am

Uknown"Unknown" is the surprise box office leader midway through Presidents Day weekend.

The Liam Neeson action film has exceeded pre-release projections and taken in $21.8 million from Friday through Sunday, according to an estimate from distributor Warner Bros.

When the holiday weekend ends Monday, "Unknown" will be in a tight race for No. 1 against Walt Disney Studios' 3-D animated "Gnomeo & Juliet," which on its second weekend in release collected $19.4 million, down only 23.5%. As a family film, it's likely to do better on Presidents Day with many parents looking to entertain young kids off from school.

"I Am Number Four," which was expected to top the box office this weekend, proved to be something of a disappointment. DreamWorks Studios' adaptation of a popular young adult novel collected a so-so $19.5 million from Friday to Sunday.

The weekend's other new release, "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son," also had a modest debut, taking in just $17 million over three days. 

Sony Pictures' "Just Go With It," the romantic comedy with Adam Sandler, which topped Valentine's Day weekend, declined just 40% to $18.2 million. 

After many young Justin Bieber fans rushed out to see his 3-D concert film "Never Say Never" when it opened in theaters last weekend, the Paramount release dropped 54% to $13.6 million in ticket sales through Sunday this weekend.

Estimated ticket sales for the full holiday weekend will be reported Monday morning.

--Amy Kaufman

Photo: January Jones and Liam Neeson star in "Unknown." Credit: Warner Bros.