Apparently, mid-February is the new summer. There was enough audience to go around for all four of the week’s top openers, despite a spate of negative reviews for each of them. Having already coughed up $30.5 million to boost the opening weekend of his last big romantic drama, the Nicholas Sparks adaptation Dear John, viewers were powerless to resist the leaden charms of Channing “The Big Brisket” Tatum in The Vow, as he wrapped his beefy arms around Rachel McAdams and $41.7 million. And with a modest $30 million budget, massive profits are assured, especially in the likelihood that people forget they ever saw it and fall in love with it again on home video. Not to be easily outdone, veteran hunk-tor Denzel Washington scored a big weekend with the mediocre thriller Safe House, which finished just behind The Vow with a very healthy $39.3 million. Even Journey 2: The Mysterious Island proved to be a world-beater at $27.6 million, collecting more than Journey To The Center Of The Earth despite making it painfully obvious in trailers, commercials, and posters that it would be a terrible ordeal for anyone over the age of 10. And speaking of terrible ordeals, the 3-D version of George Lucas’ little-loved Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace shook loose some more coins from the upturned pants of nerds and nerd children, earning $23 million for fourth.
In limited release, the Woody Harrelson drama Rampart, co-scripted by James Ellroy and based on the same corruption case that inspired TV’s The Shield, enjoyed a solid $13,020 per screen on five screens, though its distributor’s unsuccessful Oscar campaign on Harrelson’s behalf bodes ill of its future prospects. (Too bad, because he’s excellent in it.) A couple of legit Oscar contenders opened to mixed success: Best Foreign Language Film nominee In Darkness, from Europa, Europa director Agnieszka Holland, did a middling $9,200 on three screens, but the “what’s that?” Best Animated Film nominee Chico & Rita drew enough curiosity-seekers to win a robust $21,700 on one screen.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.