LOS ANGELES (AP):
Bruce Willis remains a die-hard at the box office. Willis' action sequel A Good Day to Die Hard debuted as the weekend's top draw with a US$25-million debut from Friday to Sunday. The 20th Century Fox release raised its domestic total to US$33.2 million since opening Thursday for Valentine's Day to get a jump on the long President's Day weekend.
The movie comes 25 years after the original Die Hard and six years after Live Free or Die Hard, the hit that resurrected the franchise centred on Willis' relentless New York City cop John McClane.
The previous weekend's No 1 movie, Universal's comedy Identity Thief, starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, was a close second with US$23.4 million to lift its haul to US$70.7 million.
Debuting at No 3 with US$21.4 million was Relativity Media's romance Safe Haven, starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel in an adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks' novel about a woman who flees her abusive husband and takes up with a sensitive widower. Since opening on Valentine's Day, Safe Haven has taken in US$30.3 million.
The Weinstein Co animated tale, Escape from Planet Earth, opened at No 4 with US$16.1 million. With a voice cast that includes Brendan Fraser, Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker and Rob Corddry, the movie follows the adventures of aliens captured by the US military.
Making a weak debut at No. 6 was the Warner Bros teen fantasy Beautiful Creatures, which pulled in US$7.5 million for the weekend and US$10 million since opening Thursday. The movie is based on the first in the best-selling series about a Southern misfit (Alden Ehrenreich) who falls under the spell of a teen witch (Alice Englert).
A Good Day to Die Hard did solid business despite bad reviews for the latest instalment, which sends Willis' McClane to Moscow in search of his estranged son, an undercover spy who winds up teaming with the old man against Russian bad guys.
The movie's success follows notable flops from two other holdovers of the 1980s action scene, Sylvester Stallone with Bullet to the Head and Arnold Schwarzenegger with The Last Stand.
"There's still life left in the Die Hard franchise. Given the fact that pretty much every other R-rated action movie that's come out this year has completely fallen flat, this is a pretty good showing," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. Willis is "one of the old-guard action stars who still has a solid career going, whereas a lot of these aging action heroes, unless they're in an ensemble cast, they're not able to draw audiences the way they used to."
Overall, Hollywood business remained slow, with revenues off for the fourth straight weekend compared to the same period last year. Domestic business from Friday to Sunday totalled US$141 million, down 9.4 per cent from the same weekend a year ago, when Safe House and The Vow led the way with about US$23 million each.
A bright spot this year has been strong business for top Academy Awards contenders leading up to next Sunday's Oscars. The weekend's top-20 films included eight of the nine best-picture nominees, seven of which have either topped US$100 million domestically or are close.
Here are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US, according to Hollywood.com:
1. A Good Day to Die Hard, US$25 million (US$61.5 million international).
2. Identity Thief, US$23.4 million (US$180,000 international).
3. Safe Haven, US$21.4 million (US$2.6 million international).
4. Escape from Planet Earth, US$16.1 million.
5. Warm Bodies, US$9 million (US$4.9 million international).
6. Beautiful Creatures, US$7.5 million (US$5.4 million international).
7. Side Effects, US$6.3 million.
8. Silver Linings Playbook, US$6.1 million (US$6.5 million international).
9. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, US$3.5 million (US$9.5 million international).
10. Zero Dark Thirty, US$3.1 million (US$2.9 million international).