''Hitch'' wins hearts, breaks records -- The Will Smith movie debuts with $45.3 million, the biggest-ever opening for a romantic comedy

By Dave Karger
Updated February 13, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

When Will Smith opens a romantic comedy, he does it in style. Smith’s first foray into the genre, Hitch, not only premiered at No. 1 this weekend, but it also became the biggest romantic comedy opening ever.

With $45.3 million, according to studio estimates, Hitch, which also stars Eva Mendes and Kevin James, handily beat Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore’s 50 First Dates, which debuted at $39.9 million last Valentine’s Day. And this year’s date-night holiday wasn’t even part of the weekend, falling on Monday instead. Smith has proven himself that rarest of movie stars — one who draws men and women in equal numbers.

Second place went to Boogeyman, which slipped 43 percent from its debut last weekend. After 10 days the horror thriller has grossed $33.3 million. Are We There Yet? and Million Dollar Baby, meanwhile, saw tiny drops of 20 percent and 13 percent, respectively, to $8.5 million and $7.6 million.

The weekend’s other new wide release was the animated Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, which only managed a $6.1 million debut. Maybe the marketing department made a mistake in underplaying the film’s love story.