Box Office Report: 'Die Hard' Pulls Ahead of 'Safe Haven' on Friday

A Good Day To Die Hard Willis Courtney 1 - H 2013
Frank Masi, SMPSP

A Good Day To Die Hard Willis Courtney 1 - H 2013

The R-rated action pic is pacing to post a five-day debut nearing $40 million, while romantic drama "Safe Haven" is eyeing a better-than-expected $36 million opening; animated pic "Escape From Planet Earth" off to a strong Friday start.

Bruce Willis starrer A Good Day to Die Hard has pulled ahead of the Nicholas Sparks film adaptation Safe Haven at the Friday box office, but the race between the two films is much closer than expected as the long Presidents Day weekend gets underway.

Die Hard, from 20th Century Fox, is projected to gross $8.5 million to $9 million on Friday for a five-day opening of $38 million to $40 million, somewhat softer than expected. The R-rated pic opened to $8.3 million on Thursday and, based on early numbers, had been expected to end the holiday stretch with at least $45 million in the bank.

Live Free or Die Hard, the PG-13 previous installment in the series, posted a five-day debut of $48.4 million when opening on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday in 2007.

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Relativity Media's romantic drama Safe Haven, which narrowly won the Valentine's Day race with $8.9 million, is pacing to gross $7.5 million on Friday for a five-day debut in the $36 million range. Tracking had suggested it would open south of $25 million.

Dismal reviews likely are hurting A Good Day to Die Hard, since the franchise's fan base is older and more influenced by a critic's opinion. Those who are turning out gave the film a B+ CinemaScore.

Fueled by younger moviegoers, Safe Haven received even worse notices than Die Hard but is more review-proof. The romantic drama also drew a B+ CinemaScore.

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Safe Haven stars Julianne Hough as a young woman who returns to her hometown only to be gripped by a dark secret from her past, even as she falls for a stranger (Josh Duhamel).

Both films launched on Valentine's Day, along with romantic fantasy Beautiful Creatures, from Alcon Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros. Beautiful Creatures continues to underperform and might only reach $15 million-$17 million for the five days.

The Weinstein Co.'s 3D animated family pic Escape From Planet Earth, opening Friday, is off to a strong start and is projected to gross as much as $21 million to $23 million for the four-day holiday weekend.

Among holdovers, the Melissa McCarthy-Jason Bateman comedy Identity Thief should stay high up on the chart.