The top four movies at the box office this weekend each took over $20 million, a feat accomplished only once before in Hollywood history -- Christmas 2008 -- and never before on a non-holiday weekend. And standing above that mountain of cash is biggest movie star in the world Channing Tatum, who will nevertheless never successfully outrun the modifier "former exotic dancer." Not that he'd want to.
1. The Vow (Screen Gems): $41.7 million in 2,958 theaters
A sappy love story about a husband who has to re-woo his wife after she loses her memory in a car accident has conquered the box office with a staggering take of well over $40 million. It's from director Michael Sucsy, the man responsible for HBO's excellent Grey Gardens, who wisely chose not to name the movie The Re-Woo. More accurate, yes, but clumsy to the ear.
2. Safe House (Universal): $39.3 million in 3,119 theaters
This is Denzel Washington's second-highest opening ever, behind American Gangster's $43.6 million, and third-biggest for Ryan Reynolds, whose only done better with superhero fare like The Green Lantern ($53 million) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($85 million). Audiences gave the spy/prison-break hybrid an A- CinemaScore, but professional critics whose job it is to hate things they don't have to pay for were decidedly more mixed.
3. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (WB): $27.55 million in 3,470 theaters
There must have been something in the water this weekend, as even this dorky Dwayne Johnson vehicle massively outperformed expectations. Did anyone even realize this was a sequel to a forgotten Brendan Fraser 3D movie from four years ago? Credit for its success should go to the enduring popularity of The Rock, and, perhaps, to star Josh Hutcherson, a holdover from the first film who is starring in the upcoming The Hunger Games. Those Hunger fanatics will pay to watch Josh run through just about any wooded area!
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (in 3D) (Fox): $23 million in 2,655 theaters
The movie that unleashed Jar Jar Binks upon the universe is back, and is Jar Jar Binksier than ever. As retrofitted 3D re-releases go, Lucas's legacy-soiling disasterpiece did reasonably well, however, landing somewhere between Beauty and the Beast ($17.8 million) and The Lion King ($30.2 million). A lot of that revenue was nostalgia-driven, as young parents can now share the horrible experience of sitting through this movie with their own kids.
5. Chronicle (Fox): $12.3 million in 2,903 theaters [Week 2]
Last week's surprise sleeper held on to a spot in the top five, dipping a reasonable 44 percent.