Fox Delays 'This Means War' Opening to Avoid Box Office Face-Off With 'The Vow'

An Awkward Encounter
Kimberley French/ Twentieth Century Fox

The boys shake hands as Witherspoon's character, Lauren, watches in horror.

To avoid a head-on confrontation with the Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum drama, the studio will instead offer a national sneak preview of the romantic action comedy on Valentine's Day.

This Means War, Fox’s action romance, which was to have opened wide on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, will instead play national sneak previews on that date, since the studio is postponing its wide opening three days until Feb. 17.

The movie, directed by McG, stars Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, as two CIA operatives who turn to battling each other when they realize they are both dating the same woman, played by Reese Witherspoon.

PHOTOS: Movie Stills From 'This Means War'

The movie had originally been slated to open in time to lure in couples looking for a Valentine’s Day movie. But another romantic challenger has arrived  in the form of Sony/Screen Gems's The Vow. That movie, directed by Michael Suscy (Grey Gardens), stars Channing Tatum as a man who must win back his wife, Rachel McAdams, who is suffering from amnesia.

With The Vow, opens opens Feb. 10,  coming on strong in the tracking, Fox decided that rather than launch on a day when The Vow, still new in theaters, is expected to dominate, it will use Feb. 14 for national sneak, playing single shows that evening on at least 2,000 screens. And since the studio is convinced of the movie’s playability, the hope is the sneaks will contribute to word-of-mouth that, coupled with additional advertising, will boost War’s official opening on Feb. 17.