Lovebirds turned out in force on Valentine's Day, pushing the romantic drama "Safe Haven" past "A Good Day to Die Hard" at the box office on Thursday, according to studio estimates.
Relativity Media's "Safe Haven" earned $8.9 million, besting the "Die Hard" sequel's $8.3 million gross, although most analysts predict that the action film will ultimately blow away the competition over President's Day Weekend.
"A Good Day to Die Hard" opened with limited late-night shows Wednesday, racking up $840,000 from 2,328 theaters. It expanded to 3,552 locations on Thursday, 302 of which are Imax theaters. "Safe Haven" will show across 3,223 locations this weekend.
The latest "Die Hard" film has been excoriated by critics, but most analysts expect its built-in fan-base will turn out in force, pushing it as high as $50 million over the long weekend. That would easily top the previous best opening for the "Die Hard" franchise, which was the $33 million three-day haul taken in by "Live Free or Die Hard" in 2007. In all, the "Die Hard" franchise has grossed $1.13 billion globally since the original film debuted in 1988.
The 20th Century Fox release was produced for $92 million and finds Bruce Willis returning to his role as wiseacre cop John McClane in an adventure that transplants him from the United States to Russia.
"Safe Haven" boasts a pair of easy-on-the-eyes stars in Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough and a story by tearjerker author Nicholas Sparks. It is expected to open the weekend to roughly $25 million and carries a production budget of $28 million.
"Beautiful Creatures," an adaptation of a popular young adult book, opened to $2.5 million in 2,950 locations. Alcon Entertainment produced the film for $55 million, and Warner Bros. is distributing the picture. Analysts project it will take in $20 million over the five days.
Both "A Good Day to Die Hard" and "Safe Haven" earned a B+ grade from audiences, according to Cinemascore. "Beautiful Creatures" received a B grade.
The Weinstein Company's animated film "Escape From Planet Earth" will debut on Friday and is expected to earn from $15 million to $18 million over the long weekend.