Weekend Box Office: Ghost Rider Can't Catch Up to Safe House, The Vow

By Chris Kavan - 02/20/12 at 10:09 AM CT

While the new movies didn't exactly make big waves with audience over the President's Day weekend, luckily last week's strong entries proved they have what it takes and still gave a boost to the box office compared to 2011.

Coming out on top Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds Safe House had a mild 40% drop and wound up with $24 million, pushing the film's total to $78.3 million. Once again, it's Washington's best second week total just behind American Gangster ($80.4 million) and looks to be a lock to become his fourth film to cross the $100 million total.

Failing to gain much traction with audiences was Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which had to settle for third place with $22 million. Compared to the original film's $45.4 million total (and not even a hint of 3D), this is one of the most disappointing sequels in modern history. You can put a little blame on Nicolas Cage, who has delivered a string of mediocre to terrible films, but moreso on the fact they decided to make a sequel of a film no one particularly cared about. Plus they waited, what, five years before they decided to revisit this hero? A flawed strategy for a flawed movie.

In the smackdown between to rival romantic films, The Vow easily won the day against the more action-oriented This Means War. Dropping just under 43%, The Vow took second place with $23.6 million. Despite less-than-stellar reviews, the Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum vehicle has brought in $85.5 million, which, on a budget of just $35 million, is looking mighty good.

Meanwhile, the same can't be said for Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, who could only combine for a fifth place $17.5 million debut. Compared to other action/romance hybrids - it feel about in line with Knight & Day ($20.5 million) and The Tourist ($16.5 million). While it didn't approach anywhere near Mr. and Mrs. Smith ($50.3) I don't think anyone was thinking it could top Brangelina.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island took fourth place with $20 million and the best audience hold rate with just a 26.5% drop. The sequel has earned $53.2 million and is tracking $10 million ahead of the original film. If it continues to hold, it should be able to break the $100 million mark by the time it's run is over.

Outside the top five, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace took a steep 65% hit - not surprising given that all the fans most likely saw it opening weekend. It was a much bigger drop than Beauty and the Beast (51%). It still took in an additional $7.8 million and now stands at $33.7 million and it moved to the fourth spot on the all-time box office list (passing the original Star Wars).

The Secret World of Arietty from Studio Ghibli opened in 9th place with $6.4 million. It surpassed Ponyo's $3.6 million to become the studio's largest-grossing American release.

On Friday, the new movies looking to make it big include the active duty SEALs getting the job done in Act of Valor, Jennifer Aniston continuing to take more edgy roles in the free love exploration (with Paul Rudd) in Wanderlust and Tyler Perry acting in a non-Tyler Perry film where he performs some Good Deeds. Once again, 2012 looks to continue it's hot streak, we'll see if audiences agree.

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