The Vow opened to an estimated $15.35 million, which is above past Valentine's Day hits like Valentine's Day ($14.5 million) and Hitch ($14 million). It was also more than Dear John's $13.76 million, and The Vow now appears guaranteed to top that movie's $30.5 million opening weekend to set a new record for Sony's Screen Gems label. Based on historical comparisons, The Vow looks poised to finish the three-day frame with at least $40 million.
Safe House also debuted ahead of nearly all comparable titles with an estimated $13.8 million. That's star Denzel Washington's second-best opening day ever behind American Gangster ($15.9 million), and marks a major improvement over recent movies Unstoppable ($8 million) and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 ($8.2 million). Universal is currently estimating a weekend gross around $38 million.
Even though it had to settle for third place, The Phantom Menace 3D still wound up with a solid $8.65 million on Friday. That's slightly off from The Lion King's 3D re-release ($8.9 million), but way up on Beauty and the Beast ($5.6 million). The movie should end the weekend with around $25 million, and a release date announcement for Attack of the Clones 3D shouldn't be far behind.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island looked like the big loser going in to the weekend, and it did open down in fourth place on Friday. That shouldn't take away from the fact that its $6.57 million start is only slightly off from Journey to the Center of the Earth's $6.7 million, which was buoyed by kids being out of school in July. Children's movies tend to hold well throughout the weekend, and if Journey 2 follows the typical model it will finish with over $20 million this weekend. If that turns out to be the case, this will be the first time since Dec. 26-28, 2008 that four movies opened to over $20 million.
Last weekend's leaders Chronicle and The Woman in Black both dropped 59 percent to $3.53 million and $3.4 million, respectively. Through eight days, they have made $31.4 million and $28.6 million.
• Weekend Forecast: 'Phantom Menace 3D' Squares Off Against Tatum, Denzel, Rock
• Grosses for Friday, February 10, 2012