via usatoday.comDespite a marketing CPR attempt to jump-start the franchise, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance couldn't overtake last week's movies at the box office. By Jasin Boland, AP Denzel Washington's holdover 'Safe House' was No. 1 at the box office this weekend, followed by holdover 'The Vow.' Enlarge By Jasin Boland, AP Denzel Washington's holdover 'Safe House' was No. 1 at the box office this weekend, followed by holdover 'The Vow.' Vengeance, a sequel to the critically panned 2007 hit, took third place this weekend, snatching up $22 million, according to studio estimates from Exhibitor Relations. A hip ad campaign, which focused more on effects than star Nicolas Cage, prompted analysts to project at least $30 million in tickets sold. And preliminary tracking reports suggested the movie was higher on teens' radar than the first movie, which made a surprising $116 million. MORE: The weekend's top 10 films But this comic-book adaptation about a stunt motorcyclist who sells his soul to the devil will have to kick sales into overdrive if it hopes to match the original, which debuted to $45 million. Vengeance managed a thumbs-up from just 17% of critics, according to amalgam site Rottentomatoes.com. Fans shrugged, giving the film a C-plus, according to Cinemascore. The movie "benefited from an on-target marketing campaign" directed at young men, says Joshua Weinstein, box office analyst for industry site Thewrap.com. But the movie "is unlikely to recover from the C-plus" audiences gave it. Tim Briody of Boxofficeprophets was more blunt. He called Vengeance a "textbook example of Unwanted Sequel Syndrome." Box office holdovers had little trouble keeping moviegoers interested. The Denzel Washington thriller Safe House claimed first place in its second weekend with $24 million, lifting its 10-day total to $78.2 million. The love story The Vow took the second spot, making $23.6 million. The movie, starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, has grossed $85.5 million. Dwayne Johnson's family adventure Journey 2: The Mysterious Island took fourth with $20.1 million. Island has captured $53.2 million over two weekends. The only other major release of the weekend, the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy This Means War, ranked fifth with $17.6 million, meeting most of its expectations. Briody says that War couldn't snatch enough business from The Vow. War, he says, "ran smack into Channing Tatum's abs." Final figures are due Tuesday because of the President's Day holiday.
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