RECORD-BREAKING WEEKEND! 4 Films Open $20+M: 'The Vow' $41M, 'Safe House' $39M; 'Journey 2' $27M, 'Star Wars 3D' $23M

SATURDAY PM, 6TH UPDATE: “Looks like that first-ever 4 openings over $20 mil on a non-holiday weekend has happened,” a studio exec emails me tonight. (On the 2008 holiday weekend December 26-28, all four movies opened on Christmas to $20+M openings that three-day weekend: Fox’s Marley And Me $36.4M, Disney’s Bedtime Stories $27.4M, Paramount’s Benjamin Button $26.9M, and MGM/UA’s Valkyrie $21M.) By the way, this is Screen Gems’ biggest opening, topping Dear John at $30.5M. That’s a Channing Tatum 1-2 punch. A record-breaking weekend gets even bigger at $175M overall moviegoing, or +25% from last year. It’s also the biggest non-holiday Fri-Sat-Sun in February of all time, kicking up the red hot 2012 start even more. I for one am relieved not to have to write the word ‘slump’. Full analysis coming.

Here’s the Top Ten:

1. The Vow (Screen Gems/Sony) NEW [2,958 Theaters]
Friday $15.3M, Saturday $16.4M, Weekend $41M

2. Safe House (Universal) NEW [3,119 Theaters]
Friday $13.8M, Saturday $16.5M, Weekend $39M

3. Journey 2: Mysterious Island 3D (Warner Bros) NEW [3,470 Theaters]
Friday $6.5M, Saturday $12.4M, Weekend $27M

4. Star Wars 3D: Phantom Menace (LucasFilm/Fox) NEW [2,655 Theaters]
Friday $8.6M, Saturday$8.7M, Weekend $23M

5. Chronicle (Fox) Week 2 [2,908 Theater]
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $5.5M, Weekend $12M (-46%), Cume $39.8M

6. The Woman In Black (CBS Films) Week 2 [2,856 Theaters]
Friday $3.3M, Saturday $4.7M, Weekend $10.4M (-50%), Cume $35.6M

7. The Grey (Open Road) Week 3 [2,801 Theaters]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $5M, Cume $42.7M

8. Big Miracle (Working Title/Universal) Week 2 [2,133 Theaters]
Friday $920K, Saturday $1.7M, Weekend $3.7M, Cume $13M

9. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) Week 13 [1,581 Theaters]
Friday $872K, Saturday $1.6M, Weekend $3.4M, Cume $70.6M

10. Underworld Awakening (Sony) Week 4 [1,657 Theaters]
Friday $666K, Saturday $1.1M, Weekend $2.5M, Cume $58.9M

FRIDAY PM/SATURDAY AM, 5TH UPDATE: After much bigger-than-expected midnights and matinees and now opening night, hang on for a wild record-setting ride. Because Hollywood is confident the North American box office can debut four major movies to $20+M on this non-holiday weekend. For certain, that’s never been done before. There were real surprises Friday: Sony Pictures/Screen Gems’ The Vow was expected to be the certain frontrunner because of strong tracking. It’s even bigger than projected. The PG-13 romantic tearjerker starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams took in $700K in midnight shows and drew a ‘B’ CinemaScore from audiences. After seesawing for the lead, it came on strong Friday evening — aka Date Night — to win #1. Universal’s Safe House also wildly overperformed for an adult-targeted R-rated actioner and snagged an ‘A-‘ CinemaScore from audiences. It’s yet another winner for reliable Denzel Washington after adding $542K in midnights and then taking flight for #2. Both films are looking at huge $38M-$39M weekends and a battle through Monday.

LucasFilm’s Star Wars 3D: Episode I – Phantom Menace distributed by Fox jumped out in matinees just as it did for $1.1M midnights. But most of that was pre-sales and its momentum slowed by Friday night to what’s probably a $22M weekend which is still a lot of coin. Fanboys wanted to be first in line for this latest version of 1999’s much derided prequel; now can regular moviegoers tolerate Jar Jar Binks again? It all depends on how frontloaded this wild card winds up. It may be beaten by Warner Bros’ PG-rated Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 3D which already opened solid overseas with $50M. With an ‘A-‘ CinemaScore and starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, it’ll strengthen during weekend family matinees to probably reach $21M in the U.S./Canada.

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