Weekend Box Office: Safe House Leaps The Vow For First, This Means War Finishes Fifth

Over the weekend we had a bit of payback. A week before, guys took their gals to see Channing Tatum sprawled in his apartment laying on the couch without a shirt on. The Vow went above and beyond industry expectations with its $40 million opening. That same weekend the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds thriller Safe House also scored $40 million after all receipts were counted. Both films maintained strong numbers with Safe House leaping over the amnesia romance to take first. But the finish is still too close to call as only $700k separate first and second. The box office had a slight jump on Valentine’s Day with The Vow earning another $11 million. After two weeks the romance has earned $85 million versus a $30 million budget. In 14 days it has already become the most successful domestic release by Sony Pictures’ genre arm Screen Gems, the same distributor that also handles the Underworld and Resident Evil franchises. Coincidentally, the film it bested was another Channing Tatum tearjerker, Dear John, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel. Expect this latest romance weepie to cross $100 million in a matter of weeks.

The success of The Vow is the antacid Sony Pictures needed as its Columbia Pictures label released Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance to a critical drubbing and audience indifference. No one was really clamoring for a sequel to the Marvel Comics’ hellblazer, but it apparently made enough money to warrant one. But when the film is essentially a reboot sequel with Nicolas Cage returning who in their right mind thought a Ghost Rider sequel would better the $52 million the first film earned in its first four days five years ago.

In the Marvel Comics cannon it seems that Ghost Rider and The Punisher just haven’t translated well on screen. But I’m willing to think that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will become one of those guilty pleasures on DVD much like Punisher: War Zone.

Holding on strong in its second weekend was Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. It had the lowest percentage drop in the top ten, losing only about 27% of its audience. It’s a kid friendly flick that won’t necessarily cause adults to roll their eyes. The additions of Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine helped to a degree, but so did the extra surcharge of seeing The Rock deliver the “peck pop of love” in 3D. The movie is doing gangbusters overseas sitting atop box office lists in many regions. s

Fox’s This Means War had a middling debut. Packaged as an action comedy but succeeding in neither genre, it was a waste of talent all around. Reese Witherspoon’s Oscar win for Walk the Line seems like it happened more than a decade ago with her recent string of movie releases. Water for Elephants did okay, but I had to struggle to remember one of the suitors in her romantic triangle comedy How Do You Know. And her lack of chemistry with Chris Pine and Tom Hardy didn’t help elevate the film either.

Basement dwellers it would seem went back to playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion over the weekend. How else can you explain the 3D revival of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace dropping in its second weekend? Of course, I’m joking. The film was frontloaded to the gills with most of the tickets purchased in advance. While the crowd may have exited it allowed Chronicle to pick up another $7 million. After three weeks the $12 million feature has earned $51 million. Not bad for a found-footage release not named Paranormal Activity.

The Woman in Black‘s $45 million earnings after three weeks has it surpassing J. Lo’s The Back-Up Plan as CBS Films’ most successful release thus far.

In a quiet debut at a little more than 1,500 locations was Disney’s release of Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty. The small opening is in line with Disney’s handling of Winnie the Pooh last year. Though to its credit, Arrietty made about a million less while playing on 900 less screens compared to Pooh‘s opening last summer. Considering the relationship Disney-Pixar has with Studio Ghibli, the American release is more of a favor than anything else, because the film has already grossed $126 million worldwide.

In terms of Oscar hopefuls, The Descendants is fairing the best having eclipsed $75 million in its 14 weeks of release. The Artist, which is the clear frontrunner for a number of Oscars on Sunday, hasn’t done as well having only made $27 million. Should it win the covet Best Picture Academy Award, the Weinsteins may give it one last hurrah before its DVD and Blu-ray release in April.

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Source: Box Office Mojo