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Box Office Report: 'Safe House' Wins Holiday With $28.4 Mil, 'The Vow' Earns $26.6 Mil

Safe House Denzel Washington in room - H 2012
Universal Pictures

In an 11th hour upset, "Journey 2" pulls ahead of new entry "Ghost Rider 2" to come in No. 3 with $26.4 million; "Ghost Rider" places No. 4 with $25.7 million, followed by "This Means War" with $20.4 million.

The long Presidents Day weekend saw a trio of strong holdovers -- Safe House, The Vow and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island--top the domestic box office chart in a surprise upset over new entries.

Universal's Safe House, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, was in a tight race with The Vow for much of the four-day weekend, but pulled ahead to grab $28.4 million. The action pic dropped a narrow 40 percent from its opening weekend, and has now grossed $82.6 million domestically.

"A broader audience is finding the movie appealing, Universal president of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco says. "And I think the Ryan Reynolds factor is making a difference, in addition to Denzel."

Overseas, Safe House has now grossed $19.6 million, bringing the movie's worldwide haul to $102.2 million.

From Sony/Screen Gems and Spyglass, The Vow came in No. 2 with an equally pleasing four-day take of $26.6 million. The Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum romantic drama is already the top grossing Screen Gems title of all time at the domestic box office, cuming $88.5 million in its first 11 days. Dear John, also starring Tatum, was the previous best, cuming $80.1 million domestically.

The Vow, which came in No. 1 the weekend before, fell a narrow 43 percent. The film has grossed $22.8 million internationally for a worldwide total of $111.3 million.

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Just behind The Vow was New Line and Warner Bros' Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, which pulled ahead of Sony's Ghost Rider--Spirit of Vengeance at the 11th hour to take the No. 3 spot with a stellar $26.4 million. Journey 2 continued to do big business overseas as well, where its cume is now $128 million. All in, the sequel has already earned $187.4 million worldwide.

Warner Bros. executive vice president of distribution Jeff Goldstein said Journey 2--which features Dwayne Johnson in the title role--is pacing 32 percent ahead of the first Journey, which starred Brendan Fraser.

"It's not to often that you get to reboot a movie with a different actor who gives it a real boost," Goldstein said.

The three holdovers led another strong weekend of moviegoing at the domestic box office, with revenues up 11 percent over Presidents Day weekend last year.

The Ghost Rider sequel, returning Nicolas Cage in the title role, grossed $25.7 million over the four-day holiday, well behind predictions, considering the first Ghost Rider debuted to $52 million over Presidents Day weekend in 2007. Pre-release tracking had suggested Spirit of Vengeance would open closer to $35 million.

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Spirit of Vengeance, receiving a tepid C+ CinemaScore, was fueled by males, who made up 61% of the audience. Moviegoers under the age of 25 made up 48 percent of the audience. Sony and Hyde Park Entertainment co-produced and co-financed the sequel, which cost $57 million to produce.

"The result fell within our expectations. Also, we made this movie for a price," said Sony president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer. Bruer also pointed to the wild success of The Vow, which is a sizeable victory for Sony and Screen Gems.

Reese Witherspoon-Chris Pine-Tom Hardy romantic action-comedy This Means War debuted at No. 5 for the four-day weekend, grossing an estimated $20.4 million despite tough competition from The Vow. Including previews, the 20th Century Fox film has earned $22 million domestically.

This Means War came in ahead of expectations, and earned an A- CinemaScore. Females fueled the film, making up 65 percent of the audience, while 60 percent of those buying tickets were over the age of 25. The production budget was $65 million.

"With an A- CInemaScore, and nothing on the horizon in the coming weeks, I think we are going to have a great multiple," said Fox executive vice president for domestic distribution Chris Aronson, noting that the film played well in America's heartland and up and down both coasts.

This Means War showed impressive strength overseas, where it debuted to $11 million from only 16 markets, opening No. 1 in Russia, Australia and Hong Kong.

The fourth new film of the weekend was Disney's family film The Secret World of Arrietty, from acclaimed Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli. Secret World of Arrietty came in No. 8, posting a solid four-day gross of $8.1 million.

At the awards box office, Fox Searchlight's The Descendants and The Weinstein Co.'s The Artist held in well, coming in No. 11 and No. 12, respectively.

The Descendants grossed $3.5 million from 1,243 theaters for a domestic cume of $75.6 million, while The Artist -- an Oscar frontrunner -- grossed $3 million from only 808 theaters for a domestic cume of $28.1 million.

Presidents Day Box Office, Feb. 17-Feb. 20

Title/Weeks in Release/Studio/Theater Count/Four Day Weekend Total/Cume

1. Safe House (2), Universal/3,121, $28.4 million, $82.6 million

2. The Vow (2), Screen Gems, Spyglass/2,958, $26.6 million, $88.5 million

3. Journey 2 (2), New Line, Warner /3,500, $26.4 million, $59.5 million

4. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (1), Sony/3,174, $25.7 million, $25.7 million

5. This Means War (1), Fox/3,189, $20.4 million, $22 million

6. Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace (2), Fox/ 2,655, $10.2 million, $36 million

7. Chronicle (3), Fox/2,556, $9.2 million, $52.7 million

8. The Secret World of Arrietty (1), Disney, Studio Ghibli/1,522, $8.1 million, $8.1 million

9. The Woman in Black (3), CBS Films/2,559, $7.8 million, $46.4 million

10. The Grey (4), Open Road Films/2,107, $3.8 million, $48.7 million