Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Valentine's Day Rides the Lightning and Bitch Slaps a Wolfman

Okay, here’s the deal. The audience got screwed this weekend, and I don’t mean in a good kind of way. Men who got dragged to Valentine’s Day had a miserable time. Women who had to endure The Wolfman didn’t have much fun either. And stuck in between was a kid-friendly Harry Potter rip-off. All three films helped propel the box office to its biggest Presidents Day weekend on record, surpassing last year’s total by close to $10 million. Bravo to those persistent moviegoers in the Northeast that trudged through the snow to see every Hollywood A-lister under the sun in Valentine’s Day.

I pretty much knew the romantic comedy from Garry Marshall would open huge. $52.4 million is a nice, big number that the suits at New Line can be proud of – matching its production costs in less than three days. Reality will sink in next week when the film drops faster than The Hangover crew after a night of uppers and Jägermeister. Honestly, ladies what’s the deal? Just because you saw a bunch of hot stars in the TV ads you thought, “Gee, looks like fun.” You’d like to think so, then up close (in a theater) your expectations were dashed when the fluffy marshmellow rom-com ended up tasting like a box of chocolates that got wedged underneath a pair of Forrest Gump’s running shoes.

It would seem that Hollywood is trying to recreate the magic that Richard Curtis perfected with his U.K. based Love Actually. Maybe the third time will be the charm with the announcement that New Line is making its third big ensemble rom-com (after He’s Just Not That Into You and Valentine’s Day) with New Year’s Eve.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians was able to narrowly fend off a vicious Wolfman to the tune of $31.1 million. That’s an impressive number considering the fantasy doesn’t include the phrases The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter and…. Oh well, at least Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, while a pain to type out, isn’t as bad a title like Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire. Yeah, because we don’t want audiences to confuse it with Precious, the eight minute short from the U.K. that was also released in 2009.

The Wolfman should be happy to make anything after being pushed back multiple times. It was originally scheduled to be released in November 2008! $30.6 million is okay for a feature that places somewhere in between Van Helsing and An American Werewolf in London for Universal Studios, as far as enjoyment goes. But with a $150 million cost, the suits better hope the film does bonkers overseas if it hopes to break even. Well, at the very least Benicio Del Toro’s part of a film that will get him seen by a larger audience. (A show of hands of those who saw both parts of Che in theaters. Anyone?)

I wish I could say something catchy and original about Avatar placing fourth with a paltry sum of $22 million, but I really can’t. So I’ll press on.

The bottom half of the top ten shows Dear John losing 50% of its audience to finish in fifth place. (Women dropped Channing Tatum like a used Kleenex and picked up Jamie Foxx, Patrick Dempsey, and Eric Dane, instead – Hector Elizando just missed the cut.) The Tooth Fairy manages to stay around because up until The Lightning Thief it was the only thing new that would appeal to kids. From Paris with Love and Edge of Darkness were neck and neck in the top ten with the John Travolta actioneer placing seventh and Mad Mel having to settle for eighth. The big winner was Crazy Heart which managed to increase its box office performance by 12% with $4 million.

Outside of the top ten, the Bollywood production of My Name is Khan had the highest per-screen average of $15,500 at 120 locations. And in one last gasp of box office successs, New Moon‘s business increased by 102%. I can see that. Nothing says romance like embracing the Romeo and Juliet of our times. But the film drops Shakespeare’s masterful prose yet keeps the multiple suicide attempts.

For those that want a humorous take on Shakes’s Romeo and Juliet, watch the clip below:

1. Valentine’s Day – $52.4 million ($52.4 mil.).
2. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – $31.1 million ($31.1 mil.)
3. The Wolfman – $30.6 million ($30.6 mil.)
4. Avatar – $22 million ($660 mil.)
5. Dear John – $15.3 million ($53.2 mil.)
6. Tooth Fairy – $5.6 million ($41.5 mil.)
7. From Paris with Love – $4.7 million ($15.9 mil.)
8. Edge of Darkness – $4.6 million ($36.1 mil.)
9. Crazy Heart – $4 million ($16.5 mil.)
10. When in Rome – $3.4 million ($26 mil.)

Source: Box Office Mojo

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