In a giant love letter to Hollywood, Valentine’s weekend at the nation’s theaters was spectacular with the four wide release newcomers over-performing and giving the industry its first time ever with four films to open with over $20 million on a non-holiday weekend. Saturday’s $80 million plus gross was the biggest Saturday gross since Memorial weekend last year with the overall weekend coming in with a very “Summer-like” $193 million.
First up is Sony’s perfectly-timed romantic drama “The Vow” starring heartthrob Channing Tatum and the beautiful Rachel McAdams in this story of romantic devotion that is based on true events. In the wake of a car accident, a newly-married couple deals with complications that arise when the wife completely loses her memory and how the husband tries to win back her love. Women all over the country dragged their boyfriends and husbands to this one and the result was the biggest debut ever for a Screen Gems film with $41.7 million. The film grossing an estimated $9.7 million in 20 markets and $52.4 million worldwide.
Of course, nothing says “I love you” like Denzel Washington kicking butt and taking names in the no nonsense action drama “Safe House” from Universal co-starring an uncharacteristically intense Ryan Reynolds. Offering a beautifully counter-programmed option to “The Vow,” women returned the favor of forcing their mates attend that film by joining in on some R-rated Denzel fun and a much-better-than-expected $39.3 million was the result. This gave Denzel Washington his second best debut ever behind only 2007’s “American Gangster” which earned $43.6 million.
The follow-up to the 2008 3-D hit “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” Warner Bros. “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” starring action star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson opened in 3,470 theaters including 282 IMAX theaters this weekend. A whopping 94% uptick on Saturday ($12.715M) vs. Friday ($6.570M) showed massive interest by families. In addition, IMAX contributed enormously to the success of the film earning $3.8 million (about 14%) of the weekend take and seeing a 100% Saturday uptick in the giant screen gross. The first film was a surprise PG-rated family friendly hit earning over $240 million globally and this time a bigger-than-expected debut of $27.5 million set this exciting journey in motion.
George Lucas gave “Star Wars” fans the perfect Valentine this weekend with Fox’s re-release of “Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace” in 3-D. The film originally released in 1999 was the first of the “prequels” in the series and earned a whopping $900 million plus at the worldwide box office. The chance to see this film on the big screen for the first time in 3-D certainly pulled at the heart strings of many a fan and an impressive $23 million “lightspeed” debut greeted the film.
Taking fifth place in its second weekend is Fox’s Super Bowl weekend leading action sci-fi drama “Chronicle” with $12.3 million. The film has earned a solid $40.2 million to date.
Year-to-date revenues got a major boost this weekend with a 19% improvement over last year at this point.