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'Game Plan' Surprise Champ at U.S. Box Office

In a major upset, the family comedy "The Game Plan" beat the terrorism thriller "The Kingdom" for honors at the weekend box office in North America, the Hollywood studios reported Sunday.

"The Game Plan," a Walt Disney Pictures release starring former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, sold about $22.7 million worth of tickets since opening Friday.

Universal Pictures' "The Kingdom," starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner, followed with $17.7 million in its first three days.

Industry pundits had expected "The Kingdom" to open at No. 1 with sales in the low-$20 million range, with "The Game Plan" kicking off in the high-teen millions.

Critics were underwhelmed by both films, but underserved family audiences rushed to "The Game Plan" anyway.

Johnson plays a hard-partying professional football player whose hedonistic lifestyle is interrupted by the arrival of the 8-year-old daughter he never knew about. His last three movies, most recently 2006's "Gridiron Gang," had opened in the $14 million to $16 million range.

Walt Disney Pictures, a unit of Walt Disney , has had similar success turning action heroes into kid-friendly stars. In 2005, the Vin Diesel comedy "The Pacifier" surprised everyone by opening at No. 1 with $30.6 million.

"The Kingdom," meanwhile, stars Foxx as the head of a small team of FBI investigators who probe a horrific terrorist attack against American civilians in Riyadh. Universal is a unit of
General Electric's NBC Universal. (NBC Universal is the parent of CNBC.)

Last weekend's champ, the zombie horror "Resident Evil: Extinction," fell to No. 3, followed by the comedy "Good Luck Chuck" and the Western "3:10 to Yuma."