The active-duty Seals that starred in Act of Valor took the weekend handily, while Hollywood was getting their nails done and hair right for their biggest night of self congratulation. Wanderlust and Amanda Seyfried‘s Gone died quick and horrible deaths, and Tyler Perry sans Madea-drag proved to be weak box office sauce. Full numbers below…

Film Weekend (4-Day) Per Screen Total
1 Act of Valor
$24,700,000 $8,128 $24,700,000
2 Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds $16,000,000 $7,505 $16,000,000
3 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island $13,475,000 (-32.1%) $4,022 $76,731,000
4 Safe House $11,400,000 (-51.8%) $3,735 $98,100,000
5 The Vow $10,000,000 (-56.6%) $3,292 $103,007,000
6 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance $8,800,000 (-60.2%) $2,773 $37,832,000
7 This Means War $8,500,000 (-51.2%) $2,665 $33,571,000
8 Wanderlust $6,600,000 $3,297 $6,600,000
9 Gone $5,000,000 $2,287 $5,000,000
10 The Secret World of Arrietty $4,503,000 (-30.1%) $2,959 $14,660,000

In what amounts to good marketing at the right audience, Act of Valor surprised this weekend by over-performing expectations and doing nearly $25 Million. It’s hard to know if the film will become an action (or camp) classic for its use of real active-duty Navy Seals, but because this plays to an audience that may not be standard, it’s also possible that the film will have some legs. It’s got an X factor.

Tyler Perry’s latest disappointed expectations as it’s one of his lower openings. That’s not to say that Perry is in any way, shape or form done, but as he is not in drag in this one it’s likely that only the core audience turned out. Perry’s films tend to open big and then fall quickly, so I would expect this one to end up in the $40 Million range. If it was done for an under $15 Million budget, it’s not much of a failure.

Wanderlust was never sold very hard, so even with marquee names it managed an under $7 Million cume. Likely Universal didn’t care much for the movie, and so it was released off season and died. Gone was also given the push off, on top of which word of mouth was terrible. Hence: Dead.

Journey 2 is holding strong and has a very good chance of hitting $100 Million domestic. With an already impressive foreign gross, we’re going to get a third one of these. Safe House will crack $100 Million this week, making it the second 2012 film to do so. The first is The Vow, which did that this weekend. Both should end up in the $120-$130 range.

Ghost Rider fell hard. It should be able to get to $50 Million, which means the end of the franchise. The Secret World of Arrietty is such a cheap release that it’s doing well for what it is, and should make its money for Disney with its DVD and Blu-ray release.

All Oscar contenders still in theaters are out of the top ten. It’s likely The Artist will expand next weekend to capitalize on its Oscar wins, but I think the Weinstein’s have been smart to keep it away from a super wide release. The film plays stronger to Hollywood people, and though it’s done $30 Million, next weekend it should do bigger business, but then die quickly. It is a black and white silent film, and had the film gone wide and died a quick death it wouldn’t be in the position it is now: Best Picture winner. The Descendents shouldn’t get much of an awards bump, nor anything else besides The Artist, which is another reason why this year’s ceremony was so boring.

Reality Check: My predictions couldn’t have been more wrong. I went high on Perry and low on Valor. As is often the case, it’s easy to over-estimate an opening weekend, as I did with Wanderlust, but here I went way low on Valor. As I said at the time, it’s a very inconsistent audience that the film is being sold to, so I didn’t peg this one as the winner it turned out to be. And I thought Perry would have a little more juice. Such is the prediction racket.

What did you catch this weekend?