Moviegoers made their way to theatres in droves this weekend, with Sony's The Vow leading the way with $41.20 million (that was enough for The Vow to outpace Universal's Safe House by $1.03 million). The romantic drama starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum exceeded its already lofty expectations and was off to an especially strong start when considering its $30 million production budget. The Vow delivered the largest opening weekend ever for a Screen Gems release, as it blew past the $30.47 million debut of previous record holder, 2010's Dear John (which also starred Tatum). Without taking into account ticket price inflation, The Vow represented the sixth largest February debut of all-time. The film was driven heavily by female moviegoers (72 percent) and its audience was more evenly divided among age groups (it skewed 55 percent towards moviegoers under 25). The Vow will hope to hold up especially well today and on Tuesday with the aid of the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday.
On the international front, The Vow grossed $9.7 million in 20 foreign markets. Key debuts included $3.2 million in Australia, $2.4 million in Germany and $1.7 million in the United Kingdom.
Safe House finished in a very close second place with $40.17 million. The action thriller starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds exceeded expectations and finished much closer to The Vow than had been widely expected going into the weekend. It should be noted that with a production budget of $85 million, that Safe House was much more expensive than The Vow. Safe House delivered the second largest debut of Washington's career, as it trailed only the $43.57 million start of 2007's American Gangster. Without taking into account ticket price inflation, Safe House claimed the eleventh largest all-time February debut. Safe House benefited from becoming the compromise choice for men and women this weekend, as its audience was evenly split between genders. The film skewed towards moviegoers 30 years and older (62 percent).
Internationally Safe House grossed $10.2 million from 25 foreign territories (most of them being smaller ones). The film will continue its international roll out throughout the rest of the month and into early March.
This weekend's biggest surprise was arguably Warner's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. The 3D adventure sequel starring Dwayne ‘The Rock' Johnson opened with a very solid $27.34 million to finish in third. The added presence of Johnson clearly helped the film's prospects in a big way, as the film opened 30 percent stronger than the $21.02 million start of 2008's Journey to the Center of the Earth. Journey 2 didn't get out of the gates especially fast on Friday with an opening day take of $6.54 million, but the film simply exploded on Saturday to gross $12.61 million (an increase of 93 percent). That is a very good sign for the film's prospects going forward, as is the fact that family films tend to hold up very well over Presidents Day weekend. The audience for Journey 2 was evenly split between genders and skewed towards moviegoers under 25 (54 percent).
Journey 2 continued its strong international run with $25.5 million from 29 foreign markets this weekend. That places the film's current international total at $74.7 million and worldwide total at $102.0 million.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D had to settle for fourth, but still grossed a respectable $22.47 million. The 3D re-issue of the 1999 sci-fi blockbuster opened in line with pre-release expectations. The all-time unadjusted domestic gross for The Phantom Menace now stands at $453.56 million. The film skewed towards male moviegoers (60 percent) and slightly towards moviegoers 25 and over (51 percent). With an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.61 to 1, The Phantom Menace did exhibit early front-loading this weekend.
Internationally, The Phantom Menace 3D grossed $20.5 million from 59 foreign markets. Key debuts included $3.9 million in Germany, $2.4 million in the United Kingdom, $2.3 million in France and $1.7 million in Australia.
Given the amount of new product in the marketplace this weekend, Fox's Chronicle and CBS Film's The Woman in Black both experienced respectable second weekend holds. Chronicle fell 45 percent to take fifth place with $12.09 million, while The Woman in Black fell 52 percent to land in sixth with $10.10 million. With respective ten-day grosses of $39.96 million for Chronicle and $35.26 million for The Woman in Black, both low-budget films continue to exceed expectations.
Additional reporting by Phil Contrino.