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Die Hard barely beats Haven

By DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE PRESS SERVICES

This article was published February 22, 2013 at 2:17 a.m.

— A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth film in the Bruce Willis action series, opened as the top movie over Washington’s Birthday weekend with $25 million in ticket sales for News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox.

The comedy Identity Thief dropped to second place from first with sales of $23.4 million, researcher Hollywood.com said Sunday.

Die Hard and three other new releases helped revive box-office sales after four weekends of shrinking sales. The first four Die Hard films, featuring Willis as the iconoclastic cop John McClane, have taken in $1.15 billion in worldwide ticket sales for Fox since the first film in 1988, according to Box Office Mojo, another researcher.

“For a franchise that was into its fourth decade, it’s a pretty decent showing, especially considering what happened with Sylvester Stallone’s and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films recently - they just tanked,” Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, said Sunday. “That Bruce Willis is basically the last man standing is a story in itself.”

In the new film, Willis’s McClane travels to Russia to rescue his kidnapped son, only to discover the situation is more complex and dangerous than he expected. Jai Courtney co-stars as son Jack.

“Identity Thief may have taken some share from Die Hard, as the comedy had a surprisingly good second week by offering couples a movie to see together the weekend after Valentine’s Day,” Bock said.

Safe Haven was third in its debut, taking in $21.4 million for Relativity Media. Julianne Hough stars as a young woman who seems to have escaped her past by taking a job in a small North Carolina community. Her idyllic new life is interrupted when a stranger comes to town asking questions about her. Josh Duhamel co-stars.

The animated children’s tale Escape From Planet Earth, from Weinstein Co., was fourth with $16 million in its first weekend. In the film, a heroic astronaut from the planet Baab ignores the misgivings of his brother and colleagues to respond to an SOS.

The mission turns out to be a trap. The movie features the voices of Brendan Fraser, Sofi a Vergara and Ricky Gervais.

Warm Bodies was fifth with $9 million in sales. Based on Isaac Marion’s novel, the movie tells the story of a slacker zombie named R, who develops a romantic attraction to one of the world’s few remaining humans. The Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. movie stars Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer.

The animated 3-D kids movie Escape From Planet Earth, meanwhile, sold a solid $21 million worth of tickets since its debut. The weekend’s remaining new release, Beautiful Creatures, flopped. It was expected that the supernatural romance would gross upward of $20 million between Thursday and Monday; instead, the movie collected just $11.5 million.

Though it is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit by the filmmakers, Escape From Planet Earth from the Weinstein Co. managed to escape any drama at the box office this weekend. The film about two sibling aliens traveling to Earth, which features celebrity voices including Jessica Alba and Jane Lynch, capitalized on the family audience at the box office. There hasn’t been a kids movie in theaters since December, so it’s likely that parents with children were eager to see a PG-rated film at the multiplex.

MovieStyle, Pages 32 on 02/22/2013

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