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The Vow Biggest Rachel McAdams Hit + Nicolas Cage Flops Again

The Vow Rachel McAdams Channing Tatum
The Vow with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance box office: Nicolas Cage crashes and burns – again

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

*Feb. 17–20 (Presidents’ Day) weekend box office: At no. 1, the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds action thriller Safe House took in $27.5 million over the four-day Presidents’ Day weekend according to final studio figures found at Worldwide cume: $101.4 million.

*Initially expected to top the four-day weekend, Michael Sucsy’s romantic drama The Vow continued to perform strongly – collecting $26.6 million – but at no. 2 on the chart. Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams star.

Overseas, audiences don’t seem all that enthusiastic about love and amnesia stories, as The Vow has pulled in a relatively modest $22.8 million abroad after nearly two weeks, including major territories such as Australia, Germany, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

*In fact, The Vow may end up following the pattern of McAdams’ previous romantic box office hit, The Notebook. Nick Cassavetes’ melodrama about love and memory loss (!) costarring Ryan Gosling, James Garner, and Gena Rowlands, generated $81.4 million in grosses in North America – but a far more modest $36.8 million elsewhere.

*At no. 3 was Brad Peyton’s Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, which drew in $25.9 million. In the cast: Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, and Dwayne Johnson. After ten days, the adventure movie has collected $59 million domestically and an excellent $128 million overseas. Also in the cast of the $80 million adventure: Two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine (Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986; The Cider House Rules, 1999).

*The latest Nicolas Cage star vehicle, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, crashed and burned at no. 4. Despite costlier 3D ticket prices, Spirit of Vengeance brought in a dispiriting $25.5 million from 3,174 theaters. The Ghost Rider sequel will have trouble matching its $57 million budget (or, more alarming, $75 million, depending on the source) at the domestic box office – it has no chance of recovering it.

*The last Nicolas Cage movie to gross over $100 million in the U.S. and Canada was National Treasure: Book of Secrets, a blockbuster that took in $220 million in late 2007/early 2008. Since then, the only other Cage movies to have brought in as much as $50 million in the domestic market were Alex Proyas’ 2009 paranormal thriller Knowing ($80 million) and Jon Turteltaub’s costly 2010 fantasy The Sorcerer’s Apprentice ($63.2 million).

*The original Ghost Rider, by the way, pulled in $115.8 million in North America in early 2007. Spirit of Vengeance will be remarkably lucky if it reaches half that amount.

That’s not good news for Nicolas Cage – believe it or not, a Best Actor Oscar winner (Leaving Las Vegas, 1995) – who has been starring in one inexplicable flop after another. I say “inexplicable” not because Cage’s movies are any good, but because Cage’s fans – the people who turned stinking garbage like The Rock, Gone in 60 Seconds, National Treasure, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and the original Ghost Rider into box office hits – should have been lining up to see more of same: The thriller Bangkok Dangerous, the supernatural action-adventure Season of the Witch, the horror actioner Drive Angry, etc.

*Of course, it’s possible that the international market will help to lift Spirit of Vengeance. (Co-producing company Hyde Park, not Sony, owns the film’s international rights as per the Los Angeles Times.) Although Drive Angry raked in a modest $30.2 million overseas, the moderately budgeted Season of the Witch scored a respectable (estimated) $66.8 million, Knowing grossed $103.7 million, and $150 million The Sorcerer’s Apprentice collected a much-needed $152.1 million. In fact, movies such as Spirit of Vengeance get made because of moviegoers outside North America. If it weren’t for them, a lot of actors (and filmmakers and studio executives) would be showcasing their talents on reality shows.

Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance also features Violante Placido, Idris Elba, Ciarán Hinds, and Johnny Whitworth.

*Starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy, McG’s comedy This Means War scored an unexciting – though better than initially estimated – $20 million from 3,189 North American sites this four-day Presidents’ Day weekend, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. To date, including Tuesday preview screenings, This Means War has pulled in $21.6 million domestically.

*Internationally, including top markets Russia/CIS and Australia, the $65 million romantic comedy/action flick hybrid earned $11 million. The story of two spies fighting for the affections of the same woman, This Means War was widely panned by film reviewers. It has a downright rancid 24 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics.”

*Best Actress Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line, 2005) hasn’t had a personal hit in four years: Seth Gordon’s holiday comedy Four Christmas, costarring Vince Vaughn, was her last one (domestically only; overseas it flopped). Although not a flop, her recent pairing with Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz, the Francis Lawrence-directed romantic triangle drama Water for Elephants may have barely managed to break even after scoring $117.1 million worldwide.

*A definite Reese Witherspoon bomb was James L. BrooksHow Do You Know, costarring Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson. Budgeted at $120 million, the 2010 romantic comedy cumed at $48.7 million worldwide.

So far, things for This Means War don’t look all that promising – or, in all fairness, all that dismal – abroad. Number one openings in Australia and Russia/CIS (as per The Hollywood Reporter), even if low key, are nothing to sneer at. One obstacle This Means War will have to surmount is that neither Chris Pine nor Tom Hardy has the international following of The Twilight Saga’s Robert Pattinson.

The story of two spies fighting for the affections of the same woman, This Means War has an embarrassing 24 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics.”

*Released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, the Studio Ghibli production The Secret World of Arrietty earned a weak – though better than expected – $8.7 million from 1,522 venues. Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi from a screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa, the animated fantasy features the voices of Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, and Will Arnett, among others.

*In Japan, The Secret World of Arrietty grossed an impressive $110 million in 2010. It has also done decent business in France ($7 million) and South Korea ($6.9 million).

Feb. 18 afternoon

Starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, Michael Sucsy’s romantic drama The Vow continues to perform remarkably well, having collected $7.4 million at the North American box office on Friday, Feb. 17, as per studio estimates. As it stands, the widely derided The Vow (a lowly 26 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics”) is expected to gross close to $30 million over the four-day Presidents’ Day weekend. American Horror Story‘s two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange (Tootsie, Blue Sky) and The Piano‘s Sam Neill are also featured in this early 2012 sleeper hit – $79 million after eight days – that cost a relatively modest $30 million.

Domestically, The Vow may become Rachel McAdams’ biggest personal box office hit (not including Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes movies). It’s clearly ahead of The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) and Red Eye (2005), and without adjusting for inflation, The Vow has already surpassed the total take of both Mean Girls (2004) and The Notebook (2004). In number of ticket of sales, however, the two earlier releases are still ahead.

At no. 3, behind both The Vow and no. 2 entry Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds actioner Safe House took in $6.5 million. Safe House, which has grossed nearly $61 million after eight days, should be the extended weekend’s no. 2 movie when final figures are tallied. That’s not bad at all, but then again…

Safe House cost a reported $85 million, not including Universal’s marketing/distribution expenses. So, Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds better get their fans outside North America to line up for this one. So far, however, not so good. Safe House pulled in only $10.2 million abroad on its first weekend out, including top territories such as Russia, Spain, and Australia.

Washington, of course, is considered a major box office draw in the United States, even though in the last ten years only one of his films has earned more than $100 million domestically: Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, costarring Russell Crowe, which took in $130.2 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), which came out in 2006.

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

Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum The Vow movie image: Kerry Hayes | Screen Gems | Sony Pictures Releasing.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance movie image: Columbia Pictures.

Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine This Means War movie image: Kimberley French | 20th Century Fox.

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1 comment

Andrew -

I would not call it a flop exactly, if it had opened at number 8 or lower then it would be a flop. It did good but not great, it’s because of the first one that it did not climb to number one, the scar has not fully healed. Though maybe this will be what it takes for Sony to give the rights back to Marvel and it can start from scratch again, i mean only reason they made was so they would not lose the rights, kinda of a shallow move if you ask me.


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