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Box-office preview: 'Valentine's Day' to dominate holiday frame

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In honor of both Valentine’s Day and the President’s Day three-day weekend, Hollywood has programmed three films for three distinct audiences. But let’s be clear: Valentine’s Day from veteran director Garry Marshall is driving the pack and should do at least $50 million for the four-day frame. If it’s successful, which it’s destined to be, expect to see a whole lot more movies where A-list actors work in a large ensemble cast for only a few days for reduced pay. It’s one easy way to earn a living.

Competing for those holiday box-office dollars this weekend is Universal’s R-rated horror film The Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, and Emily Blunt. The film has had a bit of a troubled past so it will be interesting to see if that keeps audiences from checking out Del Toro going lycan. For kids, Fox is trying to capitalize on the Harry Potter franchise, by partnering The Sorcerer’s Stone director Christopher Columbus with another popular book series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians. With three big titles hitting the marketplace, expect this frame to be a big one at the box office. Read on for my four-day predictions.

1. Valentine’s Day: $50 million

Warner Bros. spent only $14.5 million on the cast of this film. That’s pretty impressive considering names like Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Bradley Cooper, Taylor Lautner ,and Jennifer Garner don the marquee. And because they made it multi-generational: Shirley Maclaine and Hector Elizondo have relationship issues as much as Lautner and Taylor Swift do, the audience range on the film should run from teenage to AARP.

2. The Wolfman: $35 million

Reviews have not been kind to this horror flick. But I don’t think it’s enough to stop audiences from showing up to this Victorian-era thriller. The film should get beyond the $30 million mark for the four days on its R-rating alone. How it fares over the coming weeks will likely be a bigger challenge.

3. Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief: $30 million

An engaging story based on the popular book series by Rick Riordan, Percy has a lot going for it. From the cute Logan Lerman in the lead to a cast of Greek Gods that include Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan, Rosario Dawson, and Steve Coogan, the filmmakers seemed to have fun putting this film together. And with the dearth of family product in the marketplace, it’s likely to fare well with audiences. And reviews overall have been solid. There just seems to be missing any real excitement considering all this began as a beloved book.

4. Avatar: $22 million

Avatar’s four-day should match something close to it’s three-day last weekend as it holds on to those 3-D screens as long as it can.

5. Dear John: $15 milion

This movie may have dethroned Avatar last weekend but that distinction isn’t going to get it very far. The film is going to be crushed this frame by the Valentine’s Day juggernaut. If it drops 50% it should consider itself lucky.

Photo Credit: Ron Batzdorff

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