Nicholas Sparks film adaptation Safe Haven continued to overperform at the Friday box office, nearly overtaking Bruce Willis starrer A Good Day to Die Hard in a surprise upset.
The two films, both opening on Valentine's Day, ended the day in a photo finish, with each grossing $7.2 million (Die Hard had a minimal edge). Die Hard's two day total is $15.5 million, while Safe Haven's is $16 million.
The race will stay close throughout the long Presidents Day weekend, with box office observers divided as to which film will come out ahead. Some projections show Die Hard prevailing over Safe Haven with a four day cume of $27 million and a five day debut of $36 million, compared to $26 million and $35 million for Safe Haven. Others have the numbers reversed.
But throw Melissa McCarthy-Jason Bateman comedy Identity Thief into the mix and the landscape is even more muddled. The Universal pic grossed $6.5 million on its second Friday and is pacing to post a four day gross of $26 to $27 million -- meaning it could win Presidents Day weekend itself. Identity Thief's domestic cume is $53.8 million to date.
Heading into the weekend, Die Hard was widely expected to win the Valentine's Day-Presidents Day stretch with a five day gross in the $40 million to $45 million range. Dismal reviews likely are hurting the R-rated film since the franchise's fan base is older and more influenced by a critic's opinion. Those who are turning out gave the film a B+ CinemaScore.
Fueled by younger moviegoers, Relativity's Safe Haven received even worse notices than Die Hard but is more review-proof. The romantic drama, which narrowly won Valentine's Day, also drew a B+ CinemaScore.
Live Free or Die Hard, the PG-13 previous installment in the series, posted a five-day debut of $48.4 million when opening on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday in 2007. In the latest outing, the iconic action hero John McClane travels to Moscow to rescue his son (Jai Courtney), a CIA operative who's in some nasty trouble.
Safe Haven is directed by Lasse Hallstrom and stars Julianne Hough as a young woman who returns to her hometown only to gripped by a dark secret from her past, even as she falls for a stranger (Josh Duhamel).
The Weinstein Co.'s 3D family pic Escape From Planet Earth, opened to a solid $3.7 million on Friday for a four-day gross in the $18 million to $19 million range. The toon came in No. 4.
Escape From Planet Earth is the first theatrical feature from Rainmaker Entertainment. Its voice cast is led by Brendan Fraser, Jessica Alba, Rob Corddry and Sarah Jessica Parker. William Shatner plays the evil alien Shanker.
Beautiful Creatures, opening on Valentine's Day and based on the popular YA book series, continued to underperform on Friday, losing to fellow YA film property Warm Bodies and coming in No. 6.
From Alcon Entertainment, Beautiful Creatures $2.3 million for a two-day total of $4.9 million. The film, distributed by Warner Bros., may only gross $8 million to $8 million for the four day holiday weekend and $10 million to $11 million for the five days.
Summit Entertainment's Warm Bodies grossed $2.6 million on its third Friday to come in No. 5 and pushing its cume to $43.8 million.
Directed and scripted by Richard LaGravenese, Beautiful Creatures is the latest film property to be based on a young-adult book series. Beautiful Creatures stars Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich and is being distributed by Warner Bros. via its deal with Alcon. Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis also star in the film based on the first book in the Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
The movie revolves around Lena Duchannes (Englert), whose special powers has long kept her separated from others. Moving to a new town, she quickly captures the attention of Ethan Wate (Ehrenreich), but their budding relationship is threatened by an ancient battle between good and evil.