Denzel Washington's "Safe House" grabs box office crown

Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:44pm EST
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The weekend box office title landed securely in Denzel Washington's hands as his thriller, "Safe House," beat love story "The Vow" over a long U.S. holiday weekend.

"Safe House" took in $28.4 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters from Friday through Monday, according to studio estimates compiled by Reuters. That lifted the movie to No. 1 from its second-place finish when it opened a week earlier.

"The Vow," last weekend's winner, slipped to second place with $26.6 million over the four days.

The strong performances helped bring Hollywood another winning weekend as 2012 has bolted to a fast start following a 3.4 percent slump in domestic box office receipts last year.

North American (U.S. and Canadian) ticket sales for all of movies rose 10.5 percent from the same weekend a year ago to $192 million, according to the box office division of For all of 2012 so far, revenue was running 17.9 percent ahead of 2011. Attendance was up 20.6 percent.

Industry executives said a broad mix of movies was drawing people to theaters. Plus, the films now showing have drawn high marks in exit-polling of audiences. "You're seeing a lot of movies that are very satisfying. You've got something for everybody," said Chris Aronson, senior vice president for domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox.

Filmgoers had a variety of choices this weekend.

Action movie "Safe House" stars Washington as a fugitive on the run with a rookie CIA operative played by Ryan Reynolds. Polling showed the audience during the movie's first weekend was mostly older than 30.   Continued...

Cast members Ryan Reynolds (R) and Denzel Washington arrive to attend the world premiere of the film "Safe House" in New York February 7, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson