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Box Office Preview: 'Ghost Rider' has the spirit

The Associated Press, Thursday, February 16, 2012, 1:46pm (PST)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Sony's "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" in 3-D, starring Nicolas Cage as Marvel Comic character Johnny Blaze, is looking to kick President's weekend into high gear with an expected four-day holiday debut around $30 million.

However, given the recent spate of over-performing films at the domestic box office, the film's weekend total could go much higher. The first installment, released over President's weekend in 2007, debuted with a whopping $52 million for the four-day period.

Sony's romantic drama "The Vow," starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, led last weekend's Valentine's box office chart with a $41.7 million bouquet and received additional love from audiences with $11.5 million on Valentine's Day alone. And that was a Tuesday. So a four-day, second-weekend gross in the mid-$20 millions is not out of the question, with a domestic total of nearly $90 million likely by Monday night.

Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in Universal's "Safe House" also exceeded opening expectations last weekend and should draw an upcoming four-day total in the low $20 million range.

Twentieth Century Fox unleashes the action comedy "This Means War" as a sort of anti-Valentine for those ready to leave the mushy stuff behind and embrace a different kind of romance. Starring Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as two former CIA operatives who realize they are dating the same woman played by Reese Witherspoon, the McG-directed film should draw a four-day gross in the $15 million to $17 million range.

The top 5 will likely round out with either Warner Bros. "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" or Fox's 3-D rerelease of "Star Wars: Episode One —The Phantom Menace." Both have the potential to earn grosses in the low teens in their second weekend in theaters.

But don't be surprised if Disney's debut of "The Secret World of Arrietty" sneaks in there, too. The G-rated animated film is the American adaptation of the 2010 Japanese smash "The Borrower Arrietty," which has earned more than $126 million worldwide.

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Paul Dergarabedian is president of the Box Office Division of Hollywood.com and provides box office analysis for The Associated Press.

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Online: http://www.Hollywood.com

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