Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Weekend Box Office: President's Day is for lovers, not talking skulls

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Swept up in the intoxicating romance of President’s Day, audiences essentially repeated their Valentine’s viewing choices and once more put The Vow and Safe House at the top. However, this time the will-they-or-won’t-they? chemistry of Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds won out, as Safe House took the No. 1 spot over Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, whose The Vow suffered slightly without the crucial “couples who feel obligated to do something romantic—but not, you know, romantic” quadrant.


Taking advantage of those dutifully fulfilling social expectations probably could have helped one of the weekend’s biggest new movies, This Means War, which debuted at fifth place with $17.5 million. A decent opening, but certainly a far cry from what it could have earned around Valentine’s Day, when the mere sight of Reese Witherspoon’s face on a movie poster causes couples to enter a helpless hypnagogic state that’s only broken after they’ve already sent the sitter home, and are trying vainly to piece together the memory of Witherspoon’s inevitable film-closing monologue in which she asserts her feisty, Reese Witherspoon-y independence before declaring her love for some douchebag.

The disappointment of the weekend’s other talking-skull movie, Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance, has no such holiday-related qualifiers, unfortunately. Its debut in third place despite being a big, loud comic-book movie and having a trailer where its hero pisses fire can likely be attributed to negative reviews, or a general exhaustion with big, loud comic-book movies and/or big, loud Nicolas Cage. Whatever the explanation, its $22 million take is less than half what the original earned on the same weekend in 2007, which would suggest that another sequel is unlikely, were we not talking about movies with comic-book characters and Nicolas Cage.

Finally, the complete opposite of Ghost Rider—Studio Ghibli’s latest old-fashioned animated offering, The Secret World Of Arrietty—debuted at ninth place with $6.4 million, which isn’t bad considering it was only in around 1,500 theaters. The similarly limited-release indie thriller Thin Ice and high-school football documentary Undefeated also pulled relatively respectable numbers with $3,604 and $6,180 per theater, respectively, the latter on just five screens. And those who enjoy the extremely loose definition of schadenfreude that comes from seeing George Lucas earn slightly less millions than expected for milking the Star Wars property will be heartened to know that the pointlessly 3-D edition of The Phantom Menace experienced a 65-percent drop in its second week of release, which suggests his latest venture will likely only be grossly profitable, rather than obscenely.

For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.