It is a holiday weekend – at least for some government employees and students – so it’s worth looking at the four day numbers, though there’s very little difference. The big winner is last week’s Safe House, which managed to hold stronger than The Vow, while Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance proved a weaker draw than expected. Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

Film Weekend (4-Day) Per Screen Total
1 Safe House
$28,400,000 (-29.3%) $9,100 $82,600,000
2 The Vow $26,600,000 (-35.4%) $8,993 $88,527,000
3 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island $26,400,000 (-3.4%) $7,543 $59,516,000
4 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance $25,700,000 $8,097 $25,700,000
5 This Means War $20,400,000 $6,397 $22,010,000
6 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace $10,150,000 (-54.8%) $3,823 $36,023,000
7 Chronicle $9,200,000(-23.9%) $3,599 $52,679,000
8 The Secret World of Arrietty $8,102,000 $5,323 $8,102,000
9 The Woman in Black  $7,920,000 (-21.6%) $3,095 $46,530,000
10 The Grey $3,768,000 (-25.3%) $1,788 $48,661,000

Denzel Washington is having one of his strongest performers since American Gangster with Safe House, which seems to have picked an optimal release date considering its middling reviews. At this point a hundred million dollar plus total is all but guaranteed for the film, and Universal’s probably going to make some decent coin on the picture if it plays at all internationally. But the #1 picture of the year (so far) is still The Vow, which will also cross the nine digit mark, and will surely cause someone to want to cast Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum together again. If 21 Jump Street plays as strong as it looks to (and it’s a very funny movie), then Channing Tatum may become the star they tried to make him a couple of years ago.

Journey 2 is also doing much better business than expected. I would thank Dwayne Johnson for that, though he likely wouldn’t return for a third go. The film could sneak past $100 Million, which – with the film’s already strong international numbers ($128 million and counting) – means we may see a trilogy from this unlikely franchise. My hope is for the third film they bring in Chewbacca as the lead.

Alas the new pictures had a rough go this weekend. Ghost Rider is performing at half the numbers of the first film, though word of mouth was terrible, and the franchise was always rickety. This Means War came a little too late for Valentine’s Day love and was trumped by The Vow, while Arrietty was always going to be a modest release, but even with so little direct competition it seems parents and kids went to Journey instead. Of these films Arrietty is the one that is already in profit through international, while the others will struggle to break even.

The holiday also didn’t help The Phantom Menace, which puts future Star Wars 3-D releases in some question. But combined with its original gross it’s now jumped the first Star Wars on the all time list. If it was just about breaking records, I guess it’s accomplished that, and it’s possible that The Phantom Menace is still the most reviled of the prequels. If the second film performs at the same level, then the original films will likely never see the light of polarization. It all depends on how much work is required. If these conversions are done for $10 Million or so, then it may make sense to soldier through as there will surely be a larger audience for the original trilogy. It’s also possible that the franchise has been irrevocably damaged by the prequel films or the passage of time, and mainstream audiences are no longer invested.

The rest of the list consists of strong for their release date releases. The Grey is no Taken, but what is? With a relatively small budget, the film is in good shape, something that could also be said of Chronicle and The Woman in Black, which are perfect off-season releases. Low overhead, room to make at least $50 Million.

It’s also worth noting that The Artist is still not in the top ten, still on 800 screens, and shows no signs of award heat. If anything could keep this juggernaut from winning best picture it would be that (note: at this point, nothing can stop it).

ACCOUNTABILTY: With my predictions, I was a little high on Ghost Rider and The Vow, though the rest falls into place about right (a little low on War). Audiences were a little less drawn to The Vow post-holiday, though I was thinking the film might be more of a phenomenon. And these days doing $130 Million isn’t really that phenomenal – though it’s a great gross for the movie. Ghost Rider got the benefit of being new, which made me think more people would be interested.

What did you catch this weekend?