President’s Day weekend boasts multiple movie options

Though Valentine’s Day was this week, Cupid apparently came early, showering lots of love for Identity Thief this past weekend. The comedy managed to steal $34.5 million, earning more than Melissa McCarthy’s Bridesmaids ($26.2 million) and Jason Bateman’s Horrible Bosses ($28.3 million). This feat was especially impressive considering that the storm Nemo essentially shut down the Northeast under several feet of snow, which could’ve taken up to 15 percent off of the final gross.

With Nemo starting to clear, it seems that things have warmed up for new releases this week as well: The weekend seems to have something for just about everyone. Taking advantage of Valentine’s Day, three of the films opened on Thursday to give them the benefit of a five-day weekend. Those films are A Good Day to Die Hard; Beautiful Creatures, a new supernatural romance; and Safe Haven, the latest flick based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. There’s also the sci-fi animated film Escape from Planet Earth from the Weinstein Company, which premieres Friday.

The newest film in the action franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard sees the return of John McClane. The action flick is not the typical genre seen during the middle of February and, because of that, it has the advantage of being the first action blockbuster of the year.

Additionally, though the reception of the fourth Die Hard wasn’t the best, the film still managed to be the highest-grossing of the series, showing that audiences are still interested in the franchise. The fourth film took advantage of the nostalgia factor of the series and the Independence Day boost.

Besides, it’s not like Bruce Willis hasn’t been in action films lately. In fact, he was just in Looper, one of the most critically acclaimed action films in years. So seeing him in a fourth sequel seems like a step down. However, this film does have a few unique elements to bring in the crowd, such as the new location (Russia, of all places), his son Jack (played by Jai Courtney) and the return to an ‘R’ rating. At the end of the weekend, expect a five-day total around the higher 40s, giving it the biggest opening of the year so far.

This weekend will also see the opening of Safe Haven, a new romance starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. The true star, though, is Nicholas Sparks, the writer behind noteworthy romances such as Dear John, The Last Song, The Lucky One and The Notebook, probably the most beloved and cried-over romance film of the past 20 years.

Even if his movies go through every single cliche and manipulation possible, it’s a winning formula, as each of those brought more than $60 million. What those films had, however, were recognizable stars. Though the two leads in this one are certainly recognizable, they wouldn’t exactly be considered need-to-watch celebrities.

Still, Safe Haven is a romance flick released on Valentine’s Day, so it’s in a great position to be the No. 1 choice for couples and girls (and guys) just looking for a good cry. Though it’s a guarantee that something heartwrenching and out of left field will happen in the third act, as past Nicholas Sparks movies have shown, there’s a sizable audience that just gobbles this stuff up. Expect a five-day weekend slightly over $20 million.

Perhaps beating itself up for passing over both Twilight and The Hunger Games, Warner Bros. is hedging their bets on Beautiful Creatures, a supernatural romance based on the book series that began in 2009. To say that it’s trying to be the next Twilight is a given, as the film practically looks like a spinoff, just with Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis (what is she doing here?).

Though it’s assumed that there will be a strong fanbase for this series and that the film will reap the benefits of its fanbase having a four-day weekend to see the film, you can’t help but be reminded of I Am Number Four, which was another Twilight-esque fantasy that tried to launch over President’s Day weekend back in 2011 but failed. This one will likely see a similar result, bringing it right under $20 million over the weekend.

Just last week, the Weinstein Company moved the Escape from Planet Earth debut from Feb. 14 to Feb. 15, which likely shows how confident they are in the film. The animated flick looks and feels like a cheaper version of 2009’s Planet 51, which looked pretty cheap to begin with. The only thing going for it is that it’s the first new PG-rated film since Christmas. Even with that, this likely won’t push past $10 million.

Either way, this weekend there’s something for everyone.  Action for the boys, romance for the tearjerkers, supernatural romance for the teenager girls, and animation for the parents that don’t know any better.


Robert Calcagno is a second-year graduate student in the School of Cinematic Arts pursing an MFA in animation. His column “Box Office Beat” runs Fridays.