Star-stud­ded Valen­tine’s Day courts $52.4-mil­lion open­ing week­end


LOS AN­GE­LES — The star-stud­ded ro­mance Valen­tine’s Day wooed audiences with a $52.4-mil­lion open­ing week­end, eas­ily grab­bing the No. 1 spot over the hol­i­day that shares its name, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day.

“To have a movie ti­tled Valen­tine’s Day on Valen­tine’s week­end was a no-brainer that ab­so­lutely worked,” said Paul Der­garabe­dian, box-of­fice an­a­lyst for Hol­ly­ Di­rected by Garry Mar­shall ( Pretty Woman), Valen­tine’s

Day was a celebrity bonanza. The cast in­cludes Ash­ton Kutcher, Jes­sica Alba, Jen­nifer Gar­ner, Anne Hath­away, Ju­lia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Queen Lat­i­fah, Jes­sica Biel, Shirley MacLaine, Tay­lor Swift and Tay­lor Laut­ner.

Valen­tine’s Day dis­trib­u­tor Warner Bros. es­ti­mated its love story will be in the $60 mil­lion range af­ter Pres­i­dents Day on to­day. That would break the Pres­i­dents Day week­end record of $52 mil­lion set by Ghost Rider over the four­day hol­i­day week­end in 2007.

Open­ing in a tight race for No. 2 were 20th Cen­tury Fox’s action fan­tasy Percy Jack­son & the Olympians: The Light­ning

Thief with $31.1 mil­lion over three days and Uni­ver­sal’s were­wolf tale The Wolf­man with $30.6 mil­lion.

Adapted from the open­ing book in Rick Rior­dan’s fan­tasy se­ries, Percy Jack­son fol­lows the ad­ven­tures of a teen who learns he’s de­scended from the an­cient Greek gods. The cast in­cludes Uma Thur­man, Pierce Bros­nan, Cather­ine Keener and Rosario Daw­son.

The Wolf­man stars Beni­cio Del Toro, An­thony Hop­kins and Emily Blunt in an up­date of the 1941 Lon Chaney Jr. hor­ror clas­sic about an aris­to­crat who re­turns to his an­ces­tral home and is bit­ten by a were­wolf.

Com­ing in fourth for the week­end was 20th Cen­tury Fox’s sci-fi sen­sa­tion Avatar with $22 mil­lion, adding to a for­tune that al­ready has made it Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest mod- ern block­buster. Avatar raised its do­mes­tic to­tal to $659.6 mil­lion and its world­wide haul to $2.35 bil­lion.

The pre­vi­ous week­end’s No. 1 movie, Sony Screen Gems’ ro­man­tic drama Dear John, fell to fifth place with $15.3 mil­lion, lift­ing its 10-day to­tal to $53.2 mil­lion.

Like Dear John, Valen­tine’s Day drew mainly women, with the fe­male crowd mak­ing up 68 per cent of the au­di­ence, said Dan Fell­man, head of dis­tri­bu­tion for Warner Bros.

Play­ing in 3,665 the­atres, Valen­tine’s Day had a strong av­er­age of $14,300 a cin­ema.

New­com­ers and holdovers of­fered some­thing for every­one, with Valen­tine’s Day and Dear John ca­ter­ing to the date crowd, Percy Jack­son fill­ing the fam­ily niche and the R-rated The Wolf­man pulling in hor­ror fans.

The breadth of movies in the mar­ket lifted Hol­ly­wood to a record Pres­i­dents Day week­end, with Hol­ly­ es­ti­mat­ing the over­all three-day haul at $193 mil­lion. That’s up three per cent from the pre­vi­ous record set over Pres­i­dents Day week­end last year, when Fri­day the 13th led with a $40.6 mil­lion de­but.

In lim­ited release, In­dia’s My Name Is Khan de­buted strongly with $1.9 mil­lion in 120 the­atres, av­er­ag­ing $15,500 a cin­ema. Re­leased by Fox Search­light, My Name Is Khan fea­tures Shahrukh Khan, a su­per­star in the Bol­ly­wood movie in­dus­try based in Mum­bai.

Es­ti­mated ticket sales for Fri­day through Sun­day at U.S. and Cana­dian the­atres, ac­cord­ing to Hol­ly­ Fi­nal fig­ures will be re­leased Tues­day. 1. Valen­tine’s Day, $52.4 mil­lion. 2. Percy Jack­son & the Olympians: The Light­ning Thief, $31.1 mil­lion. 3. The Wolf­man, $30.6 mil­lion. 4. Avatar, $22 mil­lion. 5. Dear John, $15.3 mil­lion. 6. The Tooth Fairy, $5.6 mil­lion. 7. From Paris With Love, $4.7 mil­lion. 8. Edge of Dark­ness, $4.6 mil­lion. 9. Crazy Heart, $4 mil­lion. 10. When in Rome, $3.4 mil­lion.

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