Romantic new releases face box office struggle

With the most romantic day of the year falling on Friday, this weekend’s three new releases are, unsurprisingly, romances.

About Last Night, starring Kevin Hart, will most likely come out on top as the only comedy. The star-studded Winter’s Tale, helmed by Academy Award-winning writer Akiva Goldsman, may not be a big draw due to poor reviews and a relative lack of marketing. This weekend’s final new release, Endless Love, also received poor reviews, and suffers the added handicap of a lack of star power to attract fans.

About Last Night tells the story of two couples looking to navigate the world of new love after meeting at a bar. Three of the four main cast members (Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy and Regina Hall) were involved in the 2012 film Think Like A Man, which was successful enough that a sequel, Think Like A Man Too, is scheduled for a June 2014 release. While it seems like they may have a winning formula, it does help that Kevin Hart, who has been pure box office gold this year, leads the charge. His latest film, Ride Along, stood atop the box office standings for several weeks and is still in theaters.

Winter’s Tale, adapted from the 1983 Mark Helprin novel of the same name, tells the story of a thief who falls in love with a dying woman and time travels between the year 1916 and present-day Manhattan. Despite an all-star cast including Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Will Smith and Jessica Brown Findlay (of Downton Abbey fame), the film received mostly negative reviews. The cast might bring in audiences, but the film will likely end up being a box office flop.

Endless Love, a remake of a 1981 film of the same name, seems to be just another typical romantic drama. Starring Alex Pettyfer, recently in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Magic Mike, and Gabriella Wilde, recently in Carrie, Endless Love tells the story of a wealthy girl who falls into love with a charismatic boy, despite their parents’ attempts to keep them apart. It sounds like another cliché love story, and judging from early reviews, it probably is. While its targeted female audience may contribute to the film’s box office pull, the poor reviews will probably prevent this film from making a strong push this weekend.

Rather, expect another remake, Robocop, which came out Wednesday, to dominate the new releases.

An action/sci-fi film released on Valentine’s Day wouldn’t get much traction, but the early release might be able to give it some momentum going into President’s Day weekend. As a sci-fi film, it would be the only new release that targets a male demographic. Some critics question why it was even made. Interestingly, it will most likely fare better this weekend than the other new releases.

With the exception of About Last Night, none of this week’s releases have received positive reviews. With its electric opening weekend and strong word-of-mouth buzz, The Lego Movie will most likely sit atop the box office once again. President’s Day weekend means that there will be more patrons in theaters, but don’t expect many of them to be there for new releases.