'The Vow' is surprise winner of weekend box office

Four different films from different genres helped boost the box office over the pre-Valentine's Day weekend, signaling that audiences are connecting with Hollywood's latest offerings.

Leading the pack was "The Vow," which exceeded studio expectations to gross $41.7 million. Made for roughly $30 million, the romantic drama from Sony Corp.'s Screen Gems stars Channing Tatum as a devoted husband trying to help his wife (Rachel McAdams) regain her memory after a car accident.

According to Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution, "The Vow" had the highest opening ever for a film released under the Screen Gems label and is poised to perform well on Valentine's Day and the following weekend.

In second place, Universal's $85 million thriller "Safe House," grossed $39.3 million from 3,119 theaters in North America. Audiences were evenly split between males and females, with 84 percent citing star Denzel Washington, who plays a villain, as their primary reason for seeing the film, according to market research provided by Nikki Rocco, the president of Universal Pictures distribution.

Warner Bros. Pictures' $79 million "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," took third place with $27.6 million, an opening that exceeds the $21 million debut of the original family film, which opened in 2008.

Two 20th Century Fox releases rounded out the top five. The studio's re-release of George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequel "The Phantom Menace" grossed $23 million in its first weekend, and the sci-fi thriller "Chronicle" earned $12.3 million, bringing its cumulative gross to $40.2 million after two weekends.

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