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Valentine's Day: Does big box office equal love?

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Hey, how was your Valentine’s Day? Did it make you feel like $52.4 million bucks? That’s this morning’s estimated box-office tally for the movie Valentine’s Day, and that’s before adding in the romantics who plan to buy tickets on Presidents’ Day. Before the weekend, I asked you if you, too, were planning a date with Ashton, Topher, and the Jessicas Alba and Biel.T wrote, “It’s the movies, it’s Valentine’s Day, and sap is practically mandatory.” Kim said, “When it comes to rom-coms, I just assume every reviewer will pan them.” Angie reported, “I loved the movie and so did my husband! What I like the most is the scenes show things that could happen in real life.” Carlisle predicted, “I expect it to be light, breezy, cheesy, and schmaltzy.” And bedc01 announced, “The girlfriend and I will avoid this trite, dumb, Hollywood ‘romantic’ movie and will rather stay home and watch the greatest modern-day romantic comedy ever: Shaun of the Dead!

Wow, bedc01, I like your style. Me, I channel-surfed my way onto Casablanca on TCM, watched it for the 43rd time, wept and swooned for the 43rd time, and felt love for the whole wide world, even for Major Strasser and Peter Lorre’s Signor (“just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust”) Ugarte.

But I’m still thinking about Valentine’s Day because I’m guessing that, given its commercial success, Hollywood is about to develop a big 2010 crush on this reliable, recyclable format, the celebrity-ensemble-novelty-act movie. That’s entertainment! Already, plans have been announced for a similar whoop-di-doo pegged to New Year’s Eve. I’d recommend Independence Day, Mother’s Day, Income Tax Day, and the autumnal Jewish harvest festival of Succoth (during which observant Jews eat meals outdoors in little, roofless huts) as equally strong marketing opportunities.

What I don’t recommend, though, is relying on our collective audience goodwill for too long. We the people are able to recognize the difference between pleasurable familiarity of format and lazy cliche. And we demand more from our entertainment dollars than Taylor Swift making out with Taylor Lautner. The best romantic comedies give us what we expect and give it to us fresh — you know, like really good chocolate. Or Taylor Swift on SNL. And we can tell the difference, right? Right?

So here’s your chance: Pick a holiday and a dream ensemble cast, and let’s talk about what you want to see when Garry Marshall directs College Acceptance-Letter Day, Driver’s License Renewal Day, or Thanksgiving 90210.

Image credit: Ron Batzdorff