Warner Bros. romantic comedy nabs $66.9 million

Moviegoers took “Valentine’s Day” to heart this year — and then some.

Warner Bros.’ romantic ensemble turned in a whopping four-day estimate of $66.9 million at 3,665 locations to become the all-time highest-grossing film over Presidents Day weekend, beating Sony’s “Ghost Rider,” which took $52 million when it bowed in 2007.

The frame’s other wide openers, 20th Century Fox’s kidlit adaptation “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” and Universal’s “The Wolfman,” helped make it the most profitable Presidents Day Weekend yet with $238 million, up 9% over last year’s benchmark of $220 million.

“Percy” earned an estimated $38.8 million at 3,356, while “Wolfman” took in $36.5 million at 3,222.

At the specialty B.O., Fox Searchlight saw big turnouts for its Oscar-nommed “Crazy Heart” with four-day estimates totaling $5 million at 1,005 locations. The distrib’s other release, “My Name Is Khan,” scored the highest opening for a Bollywood film in the U.S. with $2.3 million at 120.

“Valentine’s Day” matched its top domestic performance with strong day-and-date turnouts overseas, earning $35 million through Sunday at 4,562 screens in 57 territories. The pic unseated “Avatar” in Australia with $6.5 million at 373, as well as in the U.K., where it grossed $5.8 million at 503.

Domestically, most of the frame’s top performers saw robust upticks or held steady over the long weekend.

“Valentine’s Day” jumped 26% on Saturday with $18.3 million over Friday’s $14.6 million take, while “Percy” saw a 17% uptick on Saturday with $11.4 million. “Wolfman” held steady.

On Sunday, “Valentine’s Day” was up 28%, earning a stellar $23.5 million to become the biggest Valentine’s Day grosser ever. The pic beat the holiday’s previous record holder, Sony’s “50 First Dates,” which earned $19.8 million in 2004.

“Valentine’s Day,” produced by New Line, packed theaters that day in key markets, including L.A. and San Francisco, where B.O. increased 56% and 62%, respectively.

“Love is in the air on the West Coast,” said Warner Bros. prexy of domestic distribution Dan Fellman. “Everything was so big with quite a spread across the board.”

Pic now reps Warner’s biggest four-day opener, overtaking the previous record holder, last year’s “Terminator Salvation,” with $52 million.

Fellman credited New Line as a “fabulous asset for Warner” and championed director Garry Marshall, saying, “You’ve got to pat Garry on the back. From ‘Pretty Woman’ to this, he really knows what he’s doing out there.”

“Valentine’s” benefited from a fortuitous marriage of marketing campaigns and strategic frame placement, as well as the on-the-nose film title.

Fox’s “Percy” is the first installment in author Rick Riordan’s bestselling kids series about a boy who discovers he’s the son of the Greek god Poseidon. Pic played as an all-audience film, with adults and teens making up half its aud.

“We felt that was catching everybody,” said Fox VP of domestic distribution Bert Livingston. “We knew we had the family audience, and the holiday certainly helped it.”

“Percy” should hold well in repeat frames given the tome’s popularity and strong word of mouth.

Nikki Rocco, prexy of domestic distribution for U, credited star Emily Blunt for helping “Wolfman” woo an aud that was 44% female, saying, “She falls in love with the character, not the Wolfman.”

The R-rated film, starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, may lose ground in subsequent frames given the pic’s C+ CinemaScore.

Holdover performances from Fox’s “Avatar” and last weekend’s frame topper, Sony’s “Dear John,” helped boost B.O. figures. “Avatar” grossed an estimated four-day total of $30 million at 2,685 locations in its ninth frame for a domestic cume of $667.6 million; “Dear John” fell 38% in its soph sesh with $18.8 million at 2,975, cuming $56.7 million.

Competing with “Valentine’s Day” for its share of couples on Sunday, “Dear John” earned $6.5 million, up 53% from the same day last week.

“Certainly, we opened so huge, and with ‘Valentine’s Day’ doing so well, that’s a great hold for us,” said Sony prexy of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer.

Lionsgate’s “From Paris With Love,” starring John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, dropped 32% in its soph sesh with an estimated $6.8 million at 2,722 locations. Cume is $17.9 million.

Searchlight saw an impressive launch of Bollywood pic “My Name Is Khan,” starring Shah Rukh Khan, which earned a per-screen average of $18,958. In addition to its record-setting Stateside bow, “Khan” scored $14.2 million at 1,692 screens in eight markets, the highest overseas three-day opening for a Bollywood film.

Despite a threatened ban from Indian protestors, pic opened in the No. 1 spot in India with $9.2 million at 1,450 screens.

Oscilloscope’s Danish thriller “Terribly Happy” got off to a promising start last weekend with $11,650 at one location, expanding to five over the weekend for a cume of $43,704.

Overseas, “Valentine’s Day” earned more than 60% of its international revenue from European markets, with Australia and New Zealand figuring in at about 20%. Sunday totals repped 40% of the overseas take for the weekend.

Along with “Valentine’s Day,” “Percy” opened day-and-date with an estimated $28 million at 5,800 screens in 63 territories. Pic debuted in the No. 1 spot in South Korea with $3.3 million at 322 screens, benefiting from the start of the Chinese New Year on Sunday.

Also helped by the holiday, local Chinese title “Hot Summer Days” earned $3.8 million at 1,800 screens in China and reps the first full co-production by Fox in that territory.

“Wolfman’s” international gross totals $21.5 million at 4,210 screens in 37 territories. The U.K. reps the pic’s top grosser with $3.4 million behind “Valentine’s Day” and Fox’s holdover giant “Avatar.”

“Avatar” earned an estimated $59 million at 8,453 screens in 71 markets for an international cume of $1.69 billion. France became the pic’s leading market after grossing $5.4 million at 580 screens and a cume of $156.5 million. Previous frame topper, China, has cumed $155 million.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more