Box Office Report: Newcomer 'Ghost Rider' Battling Holdover 'The Vow' for Top Spot

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Still - H 2011
Columbia Pictures

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Still - H 2011

With "Safe House" showing the staying power that will put it in the third slot, "This Means War" is heading for a fourth-place opening.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the tale of a flamable superhero, faced formidable competition from romantic melodrama The Vow as the early Friday box office returns kicked off a four-day holiday weekend in North America.

In addition to Vow entering its second weekend, the thriller Safe House, also heading into round two, was showing considerable staying power, which in turn relegated the action romance This Means War to a fourth place debut.

As the long President's Day weekend plays out, there is plenty of time for positions at the top of the chart to shift. But as early estimates rolled in Friday, some sources had The Vow in first place for the day with as much as $7.5 million, while others gave the edge to Ghost Rider, putting it above the $7 million mark for the day. In either case, it is shaping up as an intramural battle between two Sony releases.

Vow, from Sony's Screen Gems unit and Spyglass, got an extra boost mid-week from Valentine's Day moviegoers. The Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum starrer grossed $11.6 million on Feb. 14. As of Thursday, it had taken in nearly $62 million in its first seven days.

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Ghost, co-financed and co-produced by Sony and Hyde Park Entertainment, stars Nicolas Cage as the Marvel Comics character, and is a sequel to the 2007 movie, which grossed $228 million worldwide.

Universal's House, starring Denzel Washington, which was number two last weekend, was showing a strong hold of about 50% as it began its second weekend, taking in about $6.5 million for the day.

Fox's War, in which Chris Pine and Tom Hardy play spies battling for the love of Reese Witherspoon, staged national sneaks on Valentine's Day, taking in $1.7 million, hoping to kickstart word of mouth for the movie, directed by McG. By some estimates, it grossed as much as $5.4 million for the day, which would mean it's headed for a fourth-place showing.

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Warner's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, the family-friendly 3D adventure, was fifth for the day with approximately $4.6 million.