It’s a double-holiday weekend at the box office, with Valentine’s Day on Thursday and President’s Day on Monday, and three films (A Good Day to Die Hard, Safe Haven, and Beautiful Creatures) are taking advantage of the five-day frame (Weinstein is also releasing Escape from Planet Earth on Friday). Here’s how the busy frame may play out over the Friday-to-Monday period:
1. A Good Day to Die Hard – $47 million
Five years after Live Free or Die Hard scored $134.5 million, Bruce Willis is back as John McClane in a fifth installment in the enduring action franchise — this time with random Cold War overtones! After a slew of weak performances from movies like Parker and The Last Stand (it’s been a tough winter for Expendables stars), A Good Day to Die Hard is poised to become the first outright action hit of the year. Fox is releasing the film, which was made on a $92 million budget, into 3,553 theaters, and between Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and Fox’s well-executed marketing campaign, it’s headed for very healthy grosses. Die Hard opened at 10 p.m. engagements across the country on Wednesday night and pulled in $850,000, more than the $725,000 that The Expendables 2, which debuted to $28.5 million, made in similar showings last year. The Bruce Willis vehicle will be a top choice among men and moviegoers avoiding lovey-dovey fare over the weekend, and it may earn about $47 million over the Friday-to-Monday period. (And perhaps another $8 million on Valentine’s Day.)
2. Safe Haven – $22 million
The most obvious choice for Valentine’s Day viewing is this Nicholas Sparks adaptation, starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. Sparks’ films, like The Lucky One ($60.5 million) and The Last Song ($63 million), have become a brand all their own — cheap to make with mid-level grosses and strong on home market performances. Though neither star of Safe Haven is a proven box office draw, it’s a genre piece more than anything, and as The Vow proved last year, poorly reviewed romance films can reach huge audiences at the box office. Relativity financed the film for just $28 million, and in its first five days in 3,223 theaters, it should earn pretty much all of that back. The film is looking at a great Valentine’s Day gross, followed by a slightly less impressive four-day weekend around $22 million, which may bring its total to $30 million.
3. Identity Thief – $23 million
Without any new comedy competition, last weekend’s champ should remain a top choice for moviegoers in search of a laugh. (Whether they find one is another story.) Identity Thief may drop by about 35 percent over the four-day period to $23 million, which would give Universal’s $35 million comedy a great $66 million total.
4. Beautiful Creatures – $15 million
The YA-adaptation has been compared frequently to Twilight, but, like Warm Bodies before it, this witch-y drama does not appear to be the next mega-franchise destined make teens around the world swoon. Beautiful Creatures, based on a popular series of novels (though far from Hunger Games-levels of ubiquity), was financed for $60 million by Alcon Entertainment, with Warner Bros. distributing, and the film will rely on young women to drive business — a tall order considering it’s facing Safe Haven head-on. Out in 2,950 theaters, Beautiful Creatures will likely have to settle for rather ugly $15 million four-day weekend, and perhaps $20 million including Valentine’s Day sales.
5. Escape from Planet Earth – $13 million
Weinstein’s $40 million animated film doesn’t have much going for it other than the fact that it is the first family feature to debut in 2013. Until this weekend, 2013 had played host to 11 R-rated and two PG-13-rated wide releases. That being the case, if audiences were more interested in Escape, the film could be a massive hit, but with such a low-grade animated look (and a heft 3-D surcharge), a strong debut feels unlikely. Opening on Friday in 3,288 theaters, Escape may only earn $13 million over the four-day frame.
Check back all weekend long to see how each movie fares, and follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute box office updates .