Proving how starpower can trump reviews at the box office, the romantic comedy Valentine’s Day led a wave of three debuting hit films that breathed new life into the marketplace over a record Presidents’ Day holiday weekend. Taking home the silver and bronze medals respectively were the fantasy pic Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief and the monster flick The Wolfman which finished the three-day race just $473,000 apart. Powered by these three big hits, the Top 20 surged to $190M, a new all-time high for this holiday.
Moviegoers looking for love lifted the star-studded ensemble comedy Valentine’s Day to number one with an astonishing estimate of $52.4M resulting in the third largest opening ever in the month of February. Warner Bros. launched the PG-13 film ultrawide in 3,665 theaters and averaged a sensational $14,300. Very few live-action comedies have ever debuted north of $50M making Day‘s performance remarkable. Those that have included star vehicles (Bruce Almighty‘s $68M), sequels (Austin Powers in Goldmember‘s $76.6M) and franchise pics (Sex and the City‘s $56.8M).
Critics panned Valentine’s Day giving it some of the worst reviews of the year so far, but audiences paid no attention and responded to the abundance of stars (Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx, Bradley Cooper, Anne Hathaway, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift among others), a strong marketing push, and the timely release over Valentine’s Day weekend. The date pic charmed another $30.4M from overseas audiences in 52 markets for a $83M global gross.
There was a close battle for second place but initial studio estimates put Fox’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians in the runnerup spot by a slim margin with an estimated $31.1M in its first weekend. The PG-rated fantasy adventure averaged a solid $9,267 from 3,356 locations. Reviews were mixed, but the best among the three new wide openers. With schools out on Monday, Percy aims to widen the lead over the four-day stretch.
Universal debuted its monster movie The Wolfman in third with an estimated $30.6M from 3,222 sites for a muscular $9,506 average. Produced by and starring Benicio Del Toro, the R-rated chiller played more to fans of horror and thrillers and stood out from the weekend’s other offerings. Reviews were mostly bad. Overseas, it scared up $21M from 37 markets for a worldwide bite of $52M.
Together the three new releases grossed a staggering $114M over three days and will likely boost that tally to about $135M over the Friday-to-Monday long weekend. That’s almost twice the $72.1M that last year’s trio of new films collected over the same four-day holiday. In 2008, four films launched over the Presidents’ Day frame grossing $90.4M over four days.
Avatar dropped down to fourth place but only lost 4% of its weekend gross taking in an estimated $22M propelling the record cume to $659.6M. The Fox overachiever should shatter the $700M mark before March arrives. Internationally, James Cameron was still on top with another $59M boosting the overseas haul to $1.69 billion and the worldwide tally to an eye-popping $2.35 billion.
The hit tearjerker Dear John fell 50% from its solid opening and grossed an estimated $15.3M pushing the ten-day tally to $53.2M. The Sony release could end up with an impressive $80-90M. Dwayne Johnson’s durable kidpic The Tooth Fairy followed with an estimated $5.6M, off just 16%, for a cume of $41.5M in 24 days for Fox.
John Travolta and Mel Gibson followed with their latest action offerings. From Paris With Love grossed an estimated $4.7M, down 42%, for a $15.9M sum for Lionsgate. A final of around $25M is likely. Edge of Darkness dropped just 33% to an estimated $4.6M giving Warner Bros. $36.1M to date.
Fox Searchlight added 186 runs to its Oscar contender Crazy Heart and enjoyed a 12% bump up to $4M, according to estimates. The Jeff Bridges pic has collected $16.5M thus far. Rounding out the top ten was Oscar winner Denzel Washington’s latest effort The Book of Eli which grossed an estimated $3.3M, off 31%, for a $87.2M total.
In limited release, Fox Searchlight’s My Name is Khan opened to an estimated $1.9M from 120 theaters setting a new record for the largest opening ever for a Hindi-language film in North America. The PG-13 film starring Shah Rukh Khan topped all films in release this weekend with a $15,500 per-theater average. [Full disclosure: This writer was a consultant on the release of this film.]
The top ten films grossed an estimated $173.6M which was up 14% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of last year’s holiday frame when Friday the 13th opened in the top spot with $40.6M; and up a massive 56% from 2008’s holiday when Jumper debuted at number one with $27.4M.
Author: Gitseh Pandya, Box Office Guru.