Chalk one up for the old guys. Not only did Warner Bros.' Unknown , starring 58-year-old Liam Neeson surprise forecasters by coming in at No. 1 at the box office over the first three days of the Presidents Day weekend, it did so in surprising style. With an estimated $21.8 million in ticket sales, it became one of those increasingly rare films that appeal to older adults that beat out competing films aimed at the so-called dating crowd, i.e., teenagers and those in their early 20s. Warner Bros. said today (Sunday) that 54 percent of its audience was 50 or older and 89 percent was 25 or older. Indeed, virtually every forecaster had predicted that the high-school sci-fi flick I Am Number Four would easily triumph this weekend. Instead it opened at Number Two with $19.5 million. Finally, Unknown contributed to a big overall rise in sales that pushed the box office ahead of the comparable weekend a year ago for the first time in 15 weeks. Most analysts had predicted that Hollywood would not come out of its losing streak until next month. While I Am Number Four' s earnings matched most predictions with about $19.5 million, it was closely chased by Disney's Gnomeo & Juliet with around $19.4 million. Indeed some studios suspected that Disney, which is distributing the Dreamworks flick about an alien teenager, may have fudged things a bit to please its new partner. ( Four is the first film to be released under Disney's recently signed distribution deal with DreamWorks.) Daily Variety reported that most other studios' figures show Gnomeo beating Four and suggested that the two films are likely to reverse places when final results are announced . A third new films, the Martin Lawrence Comedy Big Mommas Like Father, Like Son, landed at No. 5 with $17 million.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo 1. Unknown, $21.8 million; 2. I Am Number Four , $19.5 million; 3. Gnomeo & Juliet , $19.4 million; 4. Just Go With It , $18.2 million; 5. Big Mommas Like Father, Like Son , $17 million; 6. Justin Bieber Never Say Never , $13.6 million; 7. The King's Speech , $6.6 million; 8. The Roommate , $4.1 million; 9. The Eagle , $3.6 million; 10. No Strings Attached , $3.1 million.