Weekend Report: 'Safe House' Secures Presidents Day Lead
After finishing in third on Friday, Safe House played well on Saturday and Sunday and edged past The Vow and the disappointing Ghost Rider sequel to claim first place over Presidents Day Weekend. Journey 2 held extremely well and took first place by a wide margin on Monday, while This Means War opened decently in fifth. For the four-day weekend, the Top 12 earned $171.5 million, which is a 10 percent improvement from the same weekend last year.

Safe House was off 31 percent to $27.5 million for the four-day weekend. Through 11 days the movie has made $81.8 million, which ranks second among Denzel Washington movies behind American Gangster ($83.3 million). Safe House is currently on pace to easily exceed $100 million, making it just the fourth Denzel movie ever to reach that level.

In its second outing, The Vow fell 35 percent to $26.6 million. That's a very solid hold given that the movie has already raked in tons of money between its huge opening weekend and its impressive Valentine's Day performance. On Sunday, The Vow passed Dear John ($80 million) to become Sony/Screen Gem's highest-grossing movie ever, and its total reached $88.5 million through Monday.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island dipped just five percent over the holiday weekend to $25.9 million. The movie is already at over $59 million, and is currently tracking $14 million ahead of the original Journey to the Center of the Earth. At this point, at least, that movie's $101.7 million total seems well within reach.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance flamed out this weekend with a meek $25.5 million start at 3,174 locations (65 percent of which came from 3D presentations at 2,352 locations). That opening is less than half the four-day start of the original Ghost Rider on the same weekend in 2007 ($52 million), which is a nearly unprecedented drop for a sequel.

An abundance of factors contributed to Ghost Rider's decline. While Nicolas Cage has been getting away with the over-the-top shtick for a while now, his star has faded in recent years with an abundance of bizarre and disappointing projects like The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Season of the Witch and Drive Angry. More important than Cage, though, is the fact that audiences probably weren't all that interested in a sequel to Ghost Rider in the first place. The original movie has a 5.2 rating on IMDb, which is atrocious considering fanboy fare usually gets a break on the site.

The nail in the coffin, so to speak, could have been the lengthy time off between the original and the sequel. As odd as this may sound, a good comparison is Happy Feet Two. Both Spirit of Vengeance and Happy Feet Two added 3D and were released exactly five years after their first movies. Happy Feet Two's opening was 51 percent of Happy Feet's, while Spirit of Vengeance's was 49 percent of Ghost Rider's. This seems to indicate that unless you have a monster of a brand (even with four years off, The Dark Knight Rises will probably be in good shape), you really shouldn't wait too long on the sequel.

One bright spot is that the budget for Spirit of Vengeance was just $57 million, or around half of the first movie's $110 million budget (our trusted source at Sony originally reported Ghost Rider 2's budget at $75 million, but said he accidently switched the numbers and sent along the revised figure on Sunday). Regardless, Ghost Rider is an established brand and the movie had a robust marketing effort, so it really should have opened much higher than $25.5 million.

Ghost Rider's audience was 61 percent male and 48 percent under the age of 25, and there is not currently a CinemaScore available.

See how 'This Means War' and 'The Secret World of Arrietty' fared in their openings >>