Valentine's Day Big Over President's Day Frame
By John Hamann
February 14, 2010
Like the recent Christmas and New Year's weekends, the calendar lined up perfectly again in February, as Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday and during a weekend with a President's Day Monday off for workers and kids. A calendar setup like this means big business at movie theaters regardless of quality – films have their usual big days on Friday and Saturday, but then Sunday plays like another Saturday and a half. Taking advantage of this holiday configuration are the appropriately titled Valentine's Day, a romantic comedy starring everybody in Hollywood with a pulse, The Wolfman, the long delayed goth-horror flick, and Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, the Harry Potter wannabe.
The last time Valentine's Day fell on a Sunday, it was 1999. The world was different then – the highest number of venues in the top ten was 2,700, Miramax had two films in the top ten, and the biggest film of the weekend failed to crack the $20 million mark. Just like today, romance ruled that weekend, and Kevin Costner had the biggest film with Message in a Bottle (it remains his biggest opener since Waterworld). Other romantic dramas peppered the top ten – She's All That, Blast From the Past, Shakespeare in Love, and Rushmore, and those were joined by male oriented action films like Payback and Saving Private Ryan, along with My Favorite Martian for the kids. The Valentine's/President's Day weekend represented the biggest movie-going weekend of that year until May, when The Phantom Menace opened. This year could be the same.
Jumping back to 2010, our number one film of the weekend is Valentine's Day, a romantic comedy that looked extremely promising as little as a few weekends ago. With a cast that includes Julia Roberts, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Lautner, and more if you can believe it, Valentine's Day got off to an expected huge start this. Over only the three day portion of the long weekend, Valentine's Day managed to earn a staggering $52.4 million from 3,665 venues - and it still has the holiday Monday to go. The Garry Marshall flick had a venue average of $14,300, and played extremely strongly all weekend. While not the biggest film to open in February (that will remain The Passion of the Christ's $83.8 million for a while to come), Valentine's Day did get ahead of Ghost Rider's $45.4 million, giving it the record for biggest President's Day opening weekend ever.
It's almost too bad a film like this opens so strongly. As I said above, the marketing for Valentine's Day had me wanting to see it when the Golden Globes were on a few weekends ago, but after reading a few reviews, I'd almost rather see Dear John (or rent Battlefield Earth). Valentine's Day was the worst reviewed new film of the weekend... and The Wolfman was delayed and re-cut as many as four times. Of the 113 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, only 18 were positive (and 95 were negative). That gives Valentine's Day a fresh rating of only 16%, which is right on par with Tooth Fairy, which finished at 15%. This isn't a fair thing to do for couples who are stuck choosing between the weeper Dear John (28% fresh) or this steaming pile of dung. Valentine's Day cost Warner Bros. only $52 million to make (despite the names) so the studio is laughing all the way to the bank.