There proved to be very little separation at the box office among this weekend's top four films (only $2.07 million according to studio actuals). Universal's Safe House ultimately led the way with a four-day holiday take of $27.54 million. The action thriller starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds was up one spot and down 31 percent from last weekend's three-day debut. Safe House continues to exceed expectations with an eleven-day start of $81.81 million. That places Safe House an impressive 32 percent ahead of the pace of 2010's The Book of Eli.
Internationally, Safe House grossed $6.0 million from 35 territories this weekend. That places the film's international total at $19.6 million and worldwide total at $101.4 million. Safe House has yet to open in a number of the larger international markets and will continue its international roll out next weekend when it opens in the United Kingdom, Germany and France.
Sony's The Vow placed in second with a four-day gross of $26.64 million. That placed the Screen Gems release a slim $0.90 million behind Safe House over the four-day frame. The Vow fell 35 percent and one spot from last weekend's three-day start. While it had to settle for second, the romantic drama starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum continues to perform exceptionally well with an eleven-day start of $88.57 million. That places The Vow a massive 58 percent ahead of the pace of 2010's Dear John. It should also be noted that the production budget for The Vow ($30 million) was significantly less than the production budget of Safe House ($85 million).
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island was down just 5 percent to remain in third with $25.93 million. The 3D adventure sequel starring Dwayne ‘The Rock' Johnson held up very nicely this weekend, which is typically the case for family fare over Presidents Day weekend. Journey 2 has grossed a very solid $59.05 million through eleven days. The film is currently running 31 percent ahead of the pace of 2008's Journey to the Center of the Earth, as the added presence of Johnson is clearly helping in a big way thus far.
Journey 2 remained strong internationally as it grossed $27.5 million from 43 foreign markets this weekend. That brings the film's international total to $130.0 million and worldwide total to $189.1 million.
Sony's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance registered the weekend's largest debut, but had to settle for fourth place among all films with a four-day start of $25.47 million. The superhero sequel starring Nicolas Cage opened 51 percent softer than the $52.02 million four-day start of 2007's Ghost Rider, though it should also be noted that Spirit of Vengeance was produced for far less than Ghost Rider and didn't have anywhere near the type of expectations that Ghost Rider had. With that said, it was still an underwhelming start for Spirit of Vengeance this weekend, especially since the film had the aid of higher priced 3D admissions and is extremely likely to fall off quickly going forward. The audience breakdown for Spirit of Vengeance skewed towards males (61 percent) and slightly towards older moviegoers (52 percent 25 and older).
Fox's This Means War found itself within shouting distance of Spirit of Vengeance this weekend with a fifth place four-day start of $20.01 million. When including Valentine's Day preview grosses, the total for the Reese Witherspoon vehicle stands at $21.62 million. This Means War opened towards the higher end of pre-release expectations, so it is quite possible that early word of mouth from the Valentine's Day screenings helped out the film a bit this weekend. The audience breakdown for This Means War skewed towards females (65 percent) and towards older moviegoers (60 percent 25 and older).
Fellow Fox release Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D took sixth with $9.92 million. The 3D re-issue of the 1999 blockbuster was down a very sharp 56 percent from last weekend's three-day debut. The Phantom Menace 3D has grossed $35.79 million in eleven days. That places the lifetime domestic gross for The Phantom Menace at $466.88 million. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, The Phantom Menace is now the fourth highest grossing film of all-time domestically (just ahead of Star Wars, which it just moved ahead of).
The Secret World of Arrietty debuted in eighth place with $8.68 million. That was easily the strongest start ever for a Disney released Studio Ghibli film domestically. Arrietty more than doubled the four-day $4.15 million domestic start of 2009's Ponyo, thanks in part to opening in 595 more locations than Ponyo did.
Additional reporting by Phil Contrino.