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'Safe House' Tops Box Office As 'Ghost Rider' Struggles


The box office as a whole continued to roll over the weekend, as four movies in total earned at least $20 million or more and Denzel Washington's thriller "Safe House" finished as the top draw with a studio estimated $24 million. With action-seeking audiences mostly choosing "Safe House," "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" had a hard time finding its intended demographic and finished with a disappointing $22 million in opening revenue. Romantic drama "The Vow" also put up another strong total with $23.60 million despite the release of "This Means War," which opened with a mediocre $17.55 million.

After finishing with an eye-popping $40 million in opening revenue a week ago, "Safe House" clearly had some sway with its target audience, though it was unclear how it would do with other major action releases hitting theaters. Over a holiday weekend, "Safe House" had absolutely no problem finding its audience as it ended up dipping only 40% from its huge opening. Not including the Monday holiday, "Safe House" was already up to $78 million domestically, giving it a huge 10-day total for the Universal distribution.

The success of "Safe House" mostly came at the expense of "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," which struggled to get off the ground and looks like it will bring the "Ghost Rider" series to a close. "Spirit of Vengeance" ended up with only $22 million over the three-day weekend, a very low total for a major release that had the benefit of inflated 3D ticketing prices for many of the screenings. It won't get any easier either, as thrillers "Gone" and "Act of Valor" should both take a chunk of the target demographic next weekend.

The only advantage for "Ghost Rider" is that Sony did trim the production budget from $110 million in the original to just $57 million for "Spirit of Vengeance," substantially lowering its overall commercial expectations. "Spirit of Vengeance" will still probably find enough of a foreign audience to give it somewhat of a boost, but it looks like it will finish with a very low domestic total and should be out of the top ten by early March.

A movie with a much more auspicious box office future is "The Vow," the romantic drama starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum that continues to be somewhat of a phenomenon. With a production budget of only $30 million, "The Vow" seemed to be a dime-a-dozen release, though it continues to score big with its intended audience and finished the three-day weekend with a very impressive 10-day total of $85 million. "The Vow" should easily soar past $100 million domestically by the end of next weekend and is still on pace to be one of the most lucrative movies of the entire year.

With "The Vow" continuing to do very well with its target audience, romantically themed action-comedy "This Means War" had some trouble getting off the ground this weekend. Despite the popularity of stars Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine, "This Means War" managed a lukewarm $17.55 million overall this weekend, an unimpressive total for a $65 million production. "This Means War" should be able to hang around the top ten for a few weeks, though it doesn't seem to be in position to make much of an impact moving forward.

The other new wide release of the weekend was Hayao Miyazaki's "The Secret World of Arrietty," an animated film that hit just 1,522 theaters across the country this weekend. Though Miyazaki has a huge international following, his films have struggled to find mainstream audiences in the U.S. over the years and "Arrietty" managed an opening of just $6.40 million this weekend. Though "Arrietty" should continue to play well for a small niche audience for a few more weeks, it may likely slide out of the top ten by next weekend and screenings should diminish fairly quickly.

Next weekend, "Tyler Perry's Good Deeds" will be one of the biggest releases of the weekend followed by comedy "Wanderlust," starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd. Thriller "Gone," starring Amanda Seyfried, will also be hitting theaters as will "Act of Valor," an R-rated action movie starring real life Navy SEALs.

Early Studio Box Office Estimates for 2/17/12 - 2/19/12 (In Millions), [RTT Prediction]:

1. Safe House (Universal): $24 [$17]

2. The Vow (Sony/Screen Gems): $23.60 [$20]

3. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Sony): $22 [$34]

4. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Brothers): $20.09 [$14]

5. This Means War (Fox): $17.55 [$19]

6. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D (Fox): $17.87 [$11.5]

7. Chronicle (Fox): $7.50 [$6.5]

8. The Woman in Black (CBS Films): $6.65 [$5.2]

9. The Secret World of Arrietty (Buena Vista): $6.40 [$4.8]

10. The Grey (Open Road Films): $3.03 [$2.9]

by RTTNews Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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