Can Nicolas Cage keep the Ghost Rider going? When the first film hit, it opened to $45 Million around the same weekend in 2007. But the film was not all that well received. And then there’s last weekend’s big winner The Vow. The Valentine’s day is over, but the film is a monster hit. One wonders if they can find a way to make a sequel. And then there’s This Means War - which after The Vow‘s showing, looks like it came to the dance without a date. Interesting times.

Before I talk about this weekend, it’s worth noting that Deadline posted a story that John Carter is tracking soft. With a couple weeks to go that isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, but it’s all about expectations. The problem with John Carter is that it’s supposedly very, very expensive, and they need to be doing franchise numbers. I hope the movie’s good, but I don’t know how Disney is going to get more awareness between now and then. And when I say expensive, a low ballpark figure would be $300 Million. If it can’t do $100 stateside, ouch.

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance has the benefit of opening in a non-franchise period. As did the first film. If it wins the weekend, it’s because there’s nothing else like it on the marketplace right now. The closest thing would be Journey 2, but – like The Phantom Menace re-release – was targeted at a much younger audience. Still, the last movie sucked, and they didn’t screen this for critics, so it’s all about the TV ad buy. Over $30 seems likely, but the film is likely to over-estimated. Expected great Friday numbers.

This Means War was originally supposed to open on Valentine’s Day. Fox moved it to Friday at the last minute. The last time I remember a last minute shuffle like that was for Going the Distance, and the move didn’t help the film much. Though War should open respectably, it’s more than likely the studio paid too much for the film. Audiences may be okay with it, but the romantic film of the month is The Vow, which should make over $100 Million easily. You can’t compete with that, and This Means War got trumped.

Disney’s putting out The Secret World of Arrietty, and though it may be contractual obligation, it’s more than likely a smart business plan. There are parents who live Studio Ghibli, and these films have a certain shelf life. And the more that experience these sorts of films, the larger the base grows. Soft weekend, for sure.

This is also a four day weekend for some – President’s day and all. Anyway, let’s predict for the three day:

  1. Ghost Rider 2 - $28.5 Million
  2. The Vow – $26.5 Million
  3. Safe House – $24.5 Million
  4. Journey 2 – $19 Million
  5. This Means War – $15 Million

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Star Wars trump War. I also wouldn’t be surprised if The Vow is stronger this weekend than Ghost Rider.

What are you going to catch this weekend?