Box Office Report: 'Safe Haven' Narrowly Beats 'Die Hard' to Win Valentine's Day With $8.9 Million

Safe Haven Still Duhamel Hough - H 2012
Relativity Media

Safe Haven Still Duhamel Hough - H 2012

UPDATED: The Nicholas Sparks romantic drama stars Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel; the fifth installment in the Bruce Willis action franchise earns $8.3 million and should still win the long President's Day weekend.

Relativity Media's Safe Haven, pairing Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, edged past the Bruce Willis sequel A Good Day to Die Hard to narrowly win the Valentine's Day box-office race as romance prevailed over action.

Safe Haven, the latest Nicholas Sparks film adaptation, debuted to $8.9 million on Thursday, while 20th Century Fox's Die Hard took in $8.3 million, including $840,000 in Wednesday midnight runs. Both films received a B+ CinemaScore from moviegoers, in contrast to largely negative reviews.

The third new Valentine's Day nationwide release was romantic fantasy Beautiful Creatures, based on the first book in the YA Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The movie, from Alcon Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros., debuted to a soft $2.5 million.

Die Hard 5 is widely expected to pull ahead with Valentine's Day out of the way and top the long Presidents Day weekend with a solid five-day debut in the $45 million range.

Based on its Valentine's Day showing, Safe Haven is now expected to outperform predictions and open in the $25 million to $30 million range. Beautiful Creatures likely will open in the $15 million to $18 million range, a lower showing than usual for a YA property.

One issue for Safe Haven and Beautiful Creatures, which received a B CinemaScore, is that both are competing for females.

A Good Day to Die Hard, directed by John Moore, takes the iconic action hero John McClane to Moscow to rescue his son (Jai Courtney), a CIA operative played who's in some nasty trouble. The film is rated R, while the previous installment, the 2007 Live Free or Die Hard, was rated PG-13.

Safe Haven stars 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 (Duhamel).

Directed and scripted by Richard LaGravenese, Beautiful Creatures centers on Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), whose special powers have long kept her separated from others. Moving to a new town, she quickly captures the attention of Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), but their budding relationship is threatened by an ancient battle between good and evil.

Entering the fray Friday is The Weinstein Co.'s 3D animated pic Escape From Planet Earth, which is tracking to open in the $18 million range.