Capitalizing on a dearth of romances at theaters, the fifth installment of Bruce Willis' Die Hard series took the top spot at the box office over the Valentine's Day weekend with $25 million, according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com.
Although the opening was on the low end of many analysts' expectations, the film became the date movie of choice, beating out the Melissa McCarthy comedy Identity Thief, which did $23.4 million in its second week.
While not exactly a couples retreat flick, Die Hard opened on Valentine's Day and carried enough momentum into the weekend to escape the fate of other action films of late. Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand, Sylvester Stallone's Bullet to the Head and Jason Statham's Parker have flopped at the box office this year.
Wyck Godfrey, a producer of Die Hard, says that because Valentine's Day fell on a Thursday, it created a long weekend of sorts.
And women, the key demographic of the Valentine's Day weekend, are drawn to the Willis series, he says.
"Women love (Willis' character) John McClane," he says. "It's one action hero that sort of crosses genders. John McClane has always fought for his family. There's an emotional connection that transcends being a male action star. So we really felt good about opening Die Hard on Feb. 14."
Safe Haven, the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation, took third place with $21.4 million, well above forecasts, followed by the 3-D animated film Escape From Planet Earth, whose $16.1 million debut beat expectations by $3 million.
The zombie comedy Warm Bodies rounded out the top five with $9 million.
The only other major newcomer, the supernatural drama Beautiful Creatures, took the sixth spot with $7.5 million. Forecasters expected the movie, which also opened on Thursday, to do at least $15 million.
Final figures are expected Monday.