Sony/Screen Gems romancer tops competish with $15.4 mil

Domestic moviegoers fell in love with Sony/Screen Gems’ “The Vow” yesterday, which grossed $15.4 million for a strong jump-start on Valentine’s Day.

“Vow,” co-financed by Spyglass entertainment, really started to woo potential auds earlier in the week. A spike in interest compelled Fox to reposition the opening of its “This Means War” from Valentine’s Day to Friday, Feb. 17, with one-night sneaks on Valentine’s, to distance the two competitors.

Yesterday’s gross also positions “Vow” to set an opening weekend record for Screen Gems previously held by “Dear John” ($30.5 million in 2010), also starring Channing Tatum.

Not far behind, Universal’s “Safe House” took second with $13.8 million, angling it for an opening around $38 million. Where tracking services suggest “Vow” courted femmes of all ages, “Safe House” is playing notably well with African-American and Latino crowds.

In third, Fox’s 3D re-release of “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” earned $8.7 million yesterday, followed by Warner Bros.’ “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” with $6.6 million. “Phantom Menace” initially opened in 1999 to a 3-day of $64.8 million, and the 3D retrofit will likely earn in the mid-$20 million range through Sunday.

Holdovers “Chronicle” from Fox and “The Woman in Black” from CBS Films continue their neck-and-neck horse race started last weekend. “Chronicle” earned $3.5 million yesterday to “Woman in Black’s” $3.4 million.

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