‘Safe House’ Takes Weekend Box Office; ‘Ghost Rider 2’ Keeps Up with Competition

– by Gig Patta

It’s still too close to call.

“Safe House” moved to finished on top with $23.97 million over last weekend’s top movie “The Vow” that earned $23.6 million. The two movies had an attendance drop of 40 percent and 43 percent respectively from the previous weekend.

These numbers are preliminary estimates and final reported numbers will not be available until tomorrow.

For Columbia Pictures’ “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” the comic book film kept pace with other movies with $22 million and in third place.

The sequel starred Nicolas Cage as the flaming skull motorcycle rider who tries to stop the devil in Eastern Europe.

Despite “Ghost Rider” numbers, it is considered a disappointment for Cage’s recent career and earned far below the $45.4 million from the 2007’s “Ghost Rider” film. The good news is that the sequel cost Sony a little more than half of the first movie with $57 million, compared to the original’s $110 million budget.

Twentieth Century Fox’s “This Means War” debut in fifth place with $17.55 million. The McG-directed film starred Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine. It is about two CIA agents competing for the love of one woman.

And “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” fell to fourth place with $20.085 million, a decrease of 27 percent from the previous weekend.

The animated film “The Secret World of Arrietty” also made its premiere this weekend by earning $6.4 million, a ninth place finish. It is the best U.S. opening for a Studio Ghibli movie and earned more than 2009’s “Ponyo” with $3.6 million.

The only other noteworthy weekend box office result is the 3D re-release of ‘Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” earned $7.9 million, a large drop of 65 percent from the previous weekend. However, these numbers pushed its historical figures to $464.8 million into fourth place for U.S. all-time box office numbers and the best nominal grossing Star Wars film in the series.

“The Phantom Menace” may come close to passing “The Dark Knight” all-time worldwide earnings of $1.001 billion in tenth place. The Star Wars film currently has $995 million for its all-time worldwide box numbers after this past weekend.

For next weekend, a few movies will make their premieres including “Wanderlust,” “Good Deeds,” “Gone” and “Act of Valor.”

Have a great President’s Day Weekend.

Here are the WEEKEND BOX OFFICE numbers for February 17-19, 2012:

1. Safe House $23.97 million
2. The Vow $23.6 million
3. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance $22 million
4. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island $20.085 million
5. This Means War $17.55 million
6. Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace 3D $7.865 million
7. Chronicle $7.5 million
8. The Woman in Black $6.645 million
9. The Secret World of Arrietty $6.375 million
10. The Grey $3.031 million

Source: BoxOffice.com, Box Office Mojo