Box Office Preview: Audiences to take 'The Vow'

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN For The Associated Press Published:

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- In what's shaping up to be a strong Valentine's weekend at the nation's theaters, four heartfelt newcomers are hoping to feel the love from smitten audiences.

First up is Sony's romantic drama "The Vow," starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams in the true story of a newly-married couple's struggles after the wife loses her memory in a car crash. Women everywhere will be dragging their beloveds to this one and the result should be a box office bouquet in the high $20 million to low $30 million range.

Of course, nothing says "I love you" like Denzel Washington kicking butt and taking names in the no-nonsense action drama "Safe House" from Universal, co-starring an uncharacteristically intense Ryan Reynolds. In a bold stroke of counter-programming against "The Vow," the R-rated "Safe House" offers a safe haven indeed for the testosterone set not in the mood for confections.

Meanwhile, George Lucas is giving "Star Wars" lovers the perfect Valentine with Fox's re-release of "Star Wars: Episode One -- The Phantom Menace" in 3-D. Originally released in 1999, the film was the first of the "prequels" in the series and earned a whopping $900 million worldwide. The chance to see this film in 3-D will surely tug at the heart strings of many a fan, yielding an impressive low to mid $20 million "lightspeed" debut.

Warner Bros.' "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," starring action star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, debuts in nearly 3,500 theaters this weekend, with an expected gross in the mid to high teens. The PG-rated fantasy adventure is a follow-up to the 2008 3-D hit "Journey to the Center of the Earth," which earned more than $240 million globally.

Vying for fifth place in their second weekend out will be Fox's sci-fi drama "Chronicle" and CBS Films' creepy "The Woman in Black," with potential grosses for both around $10 million after strong showings midweek.

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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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