LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Liam Neeson gave British heartthrob Alex Pettyfer a run for his money, with the veteran actor's thriller "Unknown" taking the top spot at the North American box office this holiday weekend.
"Unknown" earned $21.8 million for the weekend leading up to the Presidents Day holiday on Monday, following in the footsteps of Neeson's last action hit, 2009's "Taken."
Leeson stars as a botanist who awakens after a car crash in Berlin to find his wife claiming she does not known him and that another man has taken his identity.
Sci-fi action flick "I Am Number Four," was in second place with Alex Pettyfer as a teenaged alien refugee hiding on Earth from evil invaders who killed his family. Critics had expected it to come in first, but the film netted just $19.5 million in ticket receipts despite the anticipation.
The animated "Gnomeo and Juliet" held on to third place, with $19.4 million. The family-friendly Shakespeare retelling features the voices of James McAvoy and Emily Blunt, as well as the music of Elton John.
In the fourth spot was last week's winner, "Just Go With It" starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. The romantic comedy cashed $18.2 million.
The weekend's other major new release -- Martin Lawrence's "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son" comedy -- came in fifth with $17 million.
In sixth was Justin Bieber's "Never Say Never," with $13.6 million. The concert documentary tells the story of the boy's rise from a small town in Canada to superstardom -- and he doesn't turn 17 until next month.
Still basking in its awards glory ahead of the Academy Awards next week, critically acclaimed "The King's Speech" took $6.6 million in the seventh spot, bringing its 13-week total to $103.3 million.
The British historical drama has been nominated for 12 Oscars and already scooped up wins at other award ceremonies in the United States and Europe.
Dropping into eighth was widely panned horror flick "The Roommate" with $4.1 million, ahead of gladiator pic "The Eagle" starring Channing Tatum and earning $3.6 million.
Rounding out the top 10 was "No Strings Attached," a romantic romp starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. The Ivan Reitman film about casual sex between friends took in $3.1 million.