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Falling in Love with Presidents' Day

February 14th, 2008

It's Valentine's Day today and President's Day on Monday, so it is a de facto 5-day long weekend. There are four wide releases this week: a romantic comedy for couples, a fantasy adventure film for families, a dance film for teenage girls, and a sci-fi special effects film for teenage boys. So there really is something for everyone. Unless you are like me, single, and are sick of having romance thrust at me. I can't even buy some Valentine chocolate and wallow cause I'm still on a diet, so this year I hate Valentine's Day even more than usual. ... What?

It is not the widest release of the week, nor is it the best-reviewed, but tracking has Jumper pulling ahead of the pack. The film doesn't have a whole lot of star power with two leads that have had mixed results at the box office lately, while it is based on a book that most people have not even heard of, while the reviews are generally very, very poor. That said, most are thinking the film will earn the number one spot this weekend with perhaps more than $40 million over five days. Just under $40 million seems a little more likely, with just over $30 million over the weekend and the rest coming tonight when it debuts. This is a good start, but not a great start for a film that reportedly cost close to $85 million to make. It will still need strong international sales to earn a profit on the home market.

On the one hand, The Spiderwick Chronicles is the widest release of the week, and is also earning the some of the best reviews of the week (it's be fighting with Definitely, Maybe for that title). It is also aimed at families, which will be interested in going to the movies on the first national holiday of the year. On the other hand, it is still not tracking particularly well, especially for a movie that cost $95 million to make, give or take $10 million. Perhaps this has to do with the genre, which has been overplayed in recent years as every studio has tried to create a fantasy franchise with kids as the protagonists. It's easy to see why; they all want to make the next Harry Potter, but so far most of the time this has not worked out. Will this be the film than changes that? Unlikely, but it shouldn't bomb either. A good film to compare it to is Bridge to Terabithia, which opened the same time last year. That film earned better reviews while scoring second place with $28.54 million. However, it also had more competition and fewer theaters, so The Spiderwick Chronicles should beat it at the box office earning just over $30 million, but it does have an extras day to earn that money. Should the film do equally well overseas, it could still earn a profit on the home market, but I don't think that will be enough for the studio to risk a sequel.

Step Up was a surprise hit in 2006, opening with more than $20 million on a production budget of just $12 million. This made a sequel inevitable. However, many were probably thinking it would go direct-to-DVD. The target audience for these films, teenage girls mostly, tend to be incredibly finicky and just because the first film caught on doesn't mean Step Up 2 the Streets will find an audience. It is earning better reviews than the first film earned, but they are not strong enough to overcome the other issues and could earn less over the 5-day weekend than Step Up earned in three. Look for $21 million overall, including $4 million tonight.

It's Valentine's Day. You would think this would be a perfect time to open a romantic comedy. So why is Definitely, Maybe only opening in just over 2,200 theaters? It's not the fault of the reviews, which are the best out of the four wide releases, and 78% positive is even more impressive compared to the average for the genre. There is talk that making a romantic movie with the guy from Van Wilder might have been a mistake, but the trailer sold the film well and if the studio gave it a decent push, it should be able to do brisk business. As it is, it will struggle to hit fourth place with $18 million in total, with $4 million of that coming tonight.

Its competition for fourth place will come from Fool's Gold. The romantic adventure earned $21.59 million last weekend, and thanks to the long weekend, could earn that much over five days this weekend. That's a little generous perhaps, but $18 million isn't. That will put it in a virtual tie with Definitely, Maybe over five days, but Fool's Gold will likely win over the 3-day portion of the weekend.


Filed under: Jumper, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Fool's Gold, Step Up 2 the Streets, Definitely, Maybe