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‘Safe House,’ ‘Vow’ dominate holiday weekend

In this film image released by ColumbiPictures scene is shown from 'Ghost Rider: Spirit Vengeance' theaters Friday Feb. 17 2012.

In this film image released by Columbia Pictures, a scene is shown from "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," in theaters Friday, Feb. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Columbis Pictures-Sony)

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box office

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. theaters (in millions):

1. Safe House $24

2. The Vow $23.6

3. Ghost Rider $22

4. Journey 2: ... Island $20.1

5. This Means War $17.6

6. Star Wars: Episode I $7.9

7. Chronicle $7.5

8. The Woman in Black $6.6

9. Secret World of Arrietty $6.4

10. The Grey $3

Updated: March 21, 2012 8:12AM

The President’s Day weekend box office was too close to call as the action tale “Safe House” and the love story “The Vow” competed for the No. 1 spot.

Based on Sunday’s studio estimates, Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds’ “Safe House” had a slim lead with $24 million from Friday to Sunday. That put it a fraction ahead of Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum’s “The Vow” with $23.6 million.

The winner won’t be known for certain until Tuesday, when studios will report final numbers for the long holiday weekend. Final numbers often vary from weekend projections, which include estimates for the size of Sunday’s audiences.

Nicolas Cage’s sequel “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” came in below industry expectations, doing a bit less than half the $45 million the first one pulled in with its 2007 debut.

No matter which one finishes on top, the movie business remains unusually brisk for winter, typically a slow season at theaters. The uptick comes after Hollywood lumbered through a humdrum holiday season at the end of last year, when audiences were apathetic about most new releases.

The weekend’s overall domestic revenues totaled $160 million, up 10.7 percent from the same weekend last year, when “Unknown” led with a $21.9 million debut, according to box-office tracker


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