Box Office Preview: 'Momma,' 'No. 4' vie for No. 1

Updated: 2011-02-18 14:22


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LOS ANGELES – Fox's "Big Momma's: Like Father, Like Son," in which Martin Lawrence is back for a third time as Big Momma, will take on DreamWorks' suspense thriller "I Am Number Four" in a bid for No. 1 at the nation's theaters this President's Day weekend.

With a built-in fan base from the first two films in the hit franchise, look for this "Big Momma" to weigh in with an opening weekend gross around $20 million. "Number Four" is also poised for a debut in the $20 million range, drawing the same younger audiences that drove director D.J. Caruso's previous two thrillers, "Eagle Eye" and "Disturbia," to solid first-place openings.

The weekend's third newcomer is Warner Bros.' "Unknown," starring Liam Neeson. At nearly 60, Neeson is still one of the most believable and appealing action stars working today. Given the solid street credentials he developed from his take-no-prisoners role in 2009's "Taken," "Unknown" should collect $17 million to $20 million.

Disney's G-rated "Gnomeo and Juliet" will take full advantage of its second weekend landing in a holiday frame. This scenario traditionally benefits family films and the resulting small weekend-over-weekend percentage drop could help this animated romance gross in the mid to high teens.

Leave it to Bieber to take fifth position with around $15 million after a spectacular near $30 million debut last weekend. "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" will still have appeal to squeeze $15 million out of that tiny percentage of teen girl fans who have not yet seen their idol on the big screen.

This was to be the 15th straight weekend of a down box office vs. a year ago, when "Avatar" was toppling records. However, given the strong lineup and favorable comparisons to this time last year, the negative streak might finally come to an end.


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