If the return of Fox’s John McClane drew the most film-goers in North America over Presidents Day weekend, it was only slightly more edifying than a second helping of Universal’s Identity Thief.

A Good Day To Die Hard starring Bruce Willis trumped last weekend’s comedy champion by a slim margin on an estimated $25m versus $23.4m. It remains to be seen who will prevail over the full extent of the bank holiday weekend when the studios issue four-day estimates on Monday.

Overall weekend business of $126.4m climbed approximately 47% against the previous weekend although the year-on-year tally slipped around 12% compared to the three-day 2012 session of $124.3m when Safe House climbed to the top in its second weekend.

Turning to the other new releases, Relativity released the romance Safe Haven from Lasse Hallstrom on a good result in third place, TWC opened the animation Escape From Planet Earth decently in fourth and Warner Bros debuted the drama Beautiful Creatures at number six.

TWC’s Silver Linings Playbook ranks eighth in its 14th weekend in release on $98.5m and the Oscar-nominated rom-com will cross $100m by next weekend.

SPC launched Pablo Larrain’s Chilean foreign language Oscar nominee No on $74,500 in four venues.

Next weekend’s wide releases are TWC/Dimension’s thriller Dark Skies starring Keri Russell and produced by Jason Blum and Summit’s action film Snitch starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Estimated Top 10 North America Feb 15-17 2012

Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) A Good Day To Die Hard (Fox) Fox Int’l $25m $33.2m

2 (1) Identity Thief (Universal) UPI $23.4m $70.7m

3 (-) Safe Haven (Relativity) FilmNation $21.4m $30.3m

4 (-) Escape From Planet Earth (TWC) TWC Int’l $16.1m –

5 (2) Warm Bodies (Summit) Summit Int’l $9m $50.2m

6 (-) Beautiful Creatures (Warner Bros) Summit Int’l $7.5m $10m

7 (3) Side Effects (Open Road) FilmNation $6.3m $19.1m

8 (4) Silver Linings Playbook (TWC) TWC Int’l $6.1m $98.5m

9 (5) Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters (Paramount) PPI $3.5m $49.7m

10 (7) Zero Dark Thirty (Columbia Pictures) Panorama/Universal $3.1m $88m