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Denzel Washington 'Safe House' Scores, 'The Vow' Biggest Rachel McAdams Box Office Hit

Denzel Washington Safe HouseTHE LORAX's Blockbuster Surprise: Box Office. [Photo: Denzel Washington, Safe House.]

At no. 2 in North America this weekend, March 2-4, the R-rated comedy Project X grossed a better-than-expected $20.77 million, including $1.15 million from Thursday midnight screenings, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Most predictions had the sex comedy reaching the high teens on its first weekend.

Produced by The Hangover's Todd Phillips and directed by feature-film first-timer Nima Nourizadeh, Project X features Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown. Revolving around found video footage and a “wild party,” Project X was made for a reported $12 million, though it's unclear how much distributor Warner Bros. spent marketing it. Either way, reviewers didn't find Nourizadeh's party wild enough, as the film's approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics is a dismal 26 percent.

At no. 3 was last weekend's no. 1 movie, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh's Act of Valor. The flag-waving actioner brought in $13.7 million, down 44 percent. Though Friday grosses indicated something closer to $11-$12 million for the weekend, Act of Valor surged on Saturday.

The film's total after ten days is $45.23 million. That's not unimpressive for February release with no stars, but it's considerably less impressive when factoring in that Relativity reportedly paid $13 million to acquire the film and committed $30 million to marketing and distribution expenses. Considering Act of Valor's theme and its lack of marquee names, overseas prospects don't look all that great. We'll see.

At no. 4, the Ryan Reynolds-Denzel Washington actioner Safe House added $7.2 million (down 34 percent), cuming at $108.2 million. That's not bad at all, except for the fact that the Universal release cost a reported $85 million, not including marketing/distribution expenses. Overseas, Safe House has grossed a so-so $46.7 million to date, even though it has already opened in most major territories. Remember, studios keep about 50-55 percent of a film's domestic gross and about 40 percent of international grosses.

Though considered a major box office draw in the United States, within the last decade only one Denzel Washington movie has earned more than $100 million in North America (including Canada). That was Ridley Scott's American Gangster, co-starring Russell Crowe, which took in $130.16 million in late 2007. If inflation is taken into account, Washington has only one more over-$100 million hit since 2002: Spike Lee's heist thriller Inside Man (with about $107 million in 2012 dollars), which came out in 2006.

Directed by Daniel Espinosa, Safe House also features Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, and Rubén Blades.

Denzel Washington / Safe House photo: Universal Pictures.

The Vow Rachel McAdams Channing Tatum
Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, The Vow

The Ryan Reynolds / Denzel Washington thriller Safe House was closely followed by two movies: Tyler Perry's Good Deeds with $7 million – down a whopping 55 percent on its second weekend out – at no. 5 and the Josh Hutcherson / Dwayne Johnson / Vanessa Hudgens 3D adventure Journey 2: The Mysterious Island with $6.92 million (down 48 percent) at no. 6, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Good Deeds' total is a mediocre $25.74m; The Mysterious Island has a more impressive $85.61 million cume.

At no. 7, Rachel McAdams / Channing Tatum's The Vow scored $6.1 million. Cuming at $111.71 million, that means Michael Sucsy's romantic drama has become Rachel McAdams' biggest personal box office hit – excluding the Robert Downey Jr / Jude Law Sherlock Holmes movies and the Vince Vaughn / Owen Wilson comedy Wedding Crashers.

A while back, The Vow surpassed both The Time Traveler's Wife (2009) and Red Eye (2005), and from the get-go it was far ahead of Morning Glory (2010). Without adjusting for inflation, The Vow surpassed the total take of Mean Girls (2004) and The Notebook (2004) a couple of weeks ago.

But in number of ticket sales, The Vow forged ahead of The Notebook ($103.5 million in 2012 dollars) only last week, while it surpassed Mean Girls ($109 million in 2012 dollars) just this weekend. Overseas, The Vow has been performing much more modestly. Its cume a week ago was $30.8 million.

The Vow apparently has been following the pattern of McAdams' previous romantic box office hit in North America, The Notebook. Nick Cassavetes' melodrama about love and memory loss co-starring Ryan Gosling, James Garner, and Gena Rowlands, generated $81 million in grosses in the U.S. and Canada, but a mere $34.6 million elsewhere.

Budgeted at $30 million (not including marketing / distribution expenses), The Vow also features American Horror Story's two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange (Tootsie, Blue Sky) and The Piano's Sam Neill.

Rachel McAdams / Channing Tatum / The Vow photo: Kerry Hayes / Screen Gems

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