February's quickly turning into a mini-June. Adding to last week's surprising romantic hit, we have three more potential mini-blockbusters covering three pretty disparate genres on Valentine's Day weekend, with what marketing departments ensure me are three entirely original films.
Weekend Forecast for February 12-14, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
February 12, 2010
Likely to lead them, appropriately enough, is Valentine's Day, the latest monstrosity from Garry Marshall, who swears he's never heard of the film Love, Actually, no matter how many times you point it out, dammit! Starring... pretty much everyone, Valentine's Day is a sort of omnibus love story featuring a group of intertwining couples all around Los Angeles on February 14th. Please stop mentioning this Love, Actuary film or whatever, it's making Mr. Marshall very angry!
Among the biggest names in this film are Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, both Jessicas, Bradley Cooper, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Patrick Dempsey... basically, if you're not in this film, you should probably call your agent. On the other hand, if you are in this film, you get about seven minutes of screen time, so no big loss, really.
Marshall (picture me saying this name while screaming at the heavens) is already planning on developing this into a franchise of sorts, with New Year's Day already in the works for the end of 2011, and Arbor Day and Secretary's Day surely soon behind. Our best chance to stop him comes this very weekend, though I fear you're not going to heed my call because of convenience of going to this movie on the day that it's about. Damn you, cheap Hallmark sentiment! Despite terrible reviews, this should open up with about $32 million at over 3,600 venues.
At the risk of recycling a joke from just three paragraphs ago, the producers of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief would prefer you not think at all about the Harry Potter films when you look their movie, coming out this weekend. Just because it deals with a young, chosen boy with special powers who goes up against forces beyond his control is no reason for you to think that those movies would be in any way similar. In any way similar!
Based on a popular (but not that popular) series of young adult novels about a boy who discovers he's descended from a Greek god, Percy Jackson finds himself in the middle of an ancient battle between factions ... what? Shut up, it's a standard trope! Directed by Chris Columbus (*cough*), it also features a few star turns as the gods, including Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan, Rosario Dawson and Sean Bean, among others. And, as much as I knock this film, it looks like a fairly fun diversion for preteens and somewhat tolerable for adults (and the producers of Clash of the Titans have to be *pissed*). That crossover audience is going to be much, much smaller than for a film like Harry Potter, but opening at about 3,300 venues, it should still see about $19 million this weekend.
Finally, we have The Wolfman... oh, come on! You're not even trying! Anyway, a remake of the classic Universal horror film (a la their treatments of Frankenstein and The Mummy), this stars Benicio Del Toro as the title character, a man cursed after being bitten by a strange creature, and transforming with the full moon. It also stars Emily Blunt as his love interest, Anthony Hopkins as an evil mentor, sort of bizarro Zorro, and Hugo Weaving as the man tasked with hunting down the beast that Del Toro has become.
Venturing into the gothic horror action realm, The Wolfman seems to be going for that "scary, but not too scary" tightrope walk, earning an R for gore but still retaining a kind of comic feel. This feels like a mistake, as it's probably going to be a bit too intense for audiences looking for a fun treatment of the material, and maybe too tame for audiences used to films like Saw. Reviews are also not kind at all to it, feeling that it's all slasher film and no substance, a disappointment for material with so much depth and with the best chance of delivering us from the freaking vampire trend. Opening at about 3,200 venues, it should come in with around $17 million.
Valentine's Day will have significant competition for this weekend's romantic film title, as Dear John returns after its surprising $30 million opening weekend. Far more tragic than comic, this most recent adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel transcended its rather threadworn premise (soldier off to war finds doomed love) and blandish leads for a box office win. With the February 14th weekend upon us, this should hold over well, for a weekend of about $20 million.
Avatar was dethroned at the box office but will simply have to console itself with having earned close to $650 million domestic so far. It actually suffered its most significant drop since its opening weekend, possibly perhaps due to there being a film with a sizable take. If so, the difference was just a couple of million, so really no biggie. What's maybe a bit more surprising is how this came the weekend after Oscar nominations, which ought to have kept it afloat - though perhaps no one really needed convincing at this point. I'd look for still another solid weekend of about $18 million.
Last week's other opener, From Paris With Love, was an unmitigated flop, starting with just $8 million. Bald, gun-toting Travolta just ain't selling. Despite having Love in the title, it'll drop to just over $4 million this weekend.
Of Oscar nominated films, only Crazy Heart, with two acting nominations, is still expanding, though only by a couple hundred more screens. It entered the top 10 with about $3.5 million last weekend, and should hold at around $3 million again.