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Box Office Preview: Four New Films Hope for Record Pre-Valentine's Day Weekend

The Vow Channing Tatum Rachel McAdams Flirting - H 2012
Screen Gems

The strength of tracking for Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum romantic drama "The Vow" is impressing even rival studios; "Safe House," the 3D rerelease of "Star Wars: Episode One" and "Journey 2" also open.

The domestic box office is expected to generate another stellar performance this weekend, led by the Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum Valentine's Day entry The Vow from Screen Gems.

Between The Vow, Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds action-thriller Safe House, the 3D rerelease of Star Wars: Episode One — The Phantom Menace and Dwayne Johnson starrer Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, ticket sales could hit a record high and best the $154.4 million earned in 2009 on the weekend before Valentine's Day.

PHOTOS: Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum Shine at 'The Vow' Premiere

Tracking for The Vow is through the roof, impressing even rival studios. Interest in the romantic drama is strongest among younger females, followed by older females. Box-office observers believe the film has a good shot at hitting $30 million for the weekend, and it should see a spike on Tuesday, Valentine's Day.

The strength of The Vow prompted Fox to reverse its plans to open This Means War on Valentine's Day. Instead, Fox is only sneaking the action-comedy on Feb. 14 and then waiting to officially debut the movie on Feb. 17.

From Universal, Safe House could edge out Fox's Phantom Menace. Safe House is tracking to open in the $25 million range, while Phantom Menace is eying a weekend gross in the $20 million to $25 million range.

On Thursday, advance ticket sales for The Vow on Fandango surpassed sales for Phantom Menace, representing 40 percent of all tickets sold, compared to 37 percent for Phantom Menace.

VIDEO: 'The Vow' Director on Casting Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum

Phantom Menace — the first title in George Lucas' franchise to be rereleased in 3D — should play like a family film (fathers and sons), potentially taking eyeballs away from New Line and Warner Bros.' sequel Journey 2, which is expected to gross $12 million to $15 million, a softer range than anticipated.

In 2008, Journey to the Center of the Earth opened to $21 million domestically on its way to earning $101.7 million in North America and $140.3 million overseas. Journey 2, featuring Johnson this time instead of Brendan Fraser, has already earned a stellar $41.5 million overseas.

E-mail: Pamela.McClintock@thr.com