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'Valentine's Day,' 'Percy Jackson' and 'Wolfman': The more they cost, the less they made

February 15, 2010 | 12:05 pm

VDaySing There turned out to be a simple formula for sorting the three new movies at the box office this weekend: The more they cost, the less they made.

Romantic comedy "Valentine's Day" dominated Presidents Day weekend with a record-setting studio-estimated take of $66.9 million in the United States and Canada, easily besting children's fantasy book series adaptation "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief," which took in $38.8 million and the remake of the classic monster movie "The Wolfman," which grossed $36.5 million.

The ranking was the same overseas, where "Valentine's Day" opened to $30.4 million, "Percy Jackson" to $28 million and "Wolfman" to $21 million.

"Valentine's Day" cost Warner Bros.' New Line Cinema unit just $52 million to produce, making it a huge hit out of the gate. The debut of "Percy Jackson" was good, but not great given its $95-million production budget funded by 20th Century Fox, Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Film Partners. "The Wolfman," meanwhile, had a so-so opening. Depending on who you ask, it cost between $110 million to $150 million to produce. A person close to the Universal Pictures and Relativity Media movie said it cost $150 million, while the studio said it was more like $110 million. Either way, that opening was not great news.

Total receipts for the four-day weekend were $245 million, according to Hollywood.com, well ahead of the previous record of $220.1 million set last year.

The outsize opening for "Valentine's Day," which came in above already big expectations, is the best-ever performance for a movie over Presidents Day weekend, even accounting for ticket price inflation. The previous record holder was 2007's "Ghost Rider," which collected $52 million.

It came in just behind the top romantic comedy debut ever, "Sex and the City," also released by New Line, which opened to $57 million over its first three days in 2008.

PercyJFox and its financing partners have a good shot at coming out OK on "Percy Jackson," as family movies tend to hold well after opening and the movie got a B+ grade from moviegoers, according to market research firm CinemaScore, a sign of healthy word-of-mouth.

Odds for "The Wolfman" are longer not only due to its cost, but because audiences gave it an average grade of only C+. In addition, the lone new movie opening next weekend is "Shutter Island," an R-rated thriller that will compete most directly for the audience of "Wolfman."

Fox Searchlight also opened Indian superstar Shahrukh Khan's "My Name is Khan" at 120 theaters in cities with significant Indian-American populations. The movie grossed a healthy $2.3 million over four days. It also took in a strong $9.2 million in India and a total of $14.2 million in eight foreign markets.

Of last weekend's new movies, "From Paris With Love" held on better after its dismal start, declining 32%, while "Dear John" dropped 47% in the face of "Valentine's Day."

3-D sensation "Avatar," meanwhile, showed that it's far from done despite losing the No. 1 spot last weekend to "Dear John." Its ticket sales actually increased this weekend by 3%, hitting $30 million over four days and bringing its worldwide total to $2.36 billion.

Here are the Top 10 movies at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "Valentine's Day" (Warner Bros./New Line): Debuted to $66.9 million over four days, $56.4 million over three days. $30.4 million in 52 foreign markets.

2. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (Fox/Dune/Ingenious): Opened to $38.8 million for the four-day weekend, $31.4 million for three days. $28 million overseas in 63 countries.

3. "The Wolfman" (Universal/Relativity): $36.5 million opening over four days, $31.8 million for three days. $21 million overseas in 37 territories.

4. "Avatar" (Fox/Dune/Ingenious): $30 million over four days on its ninth weekend and $23.5 million over three days, up 3% from last weekend. $59 million overseas in 71 markets. Domestic total: $667.6 million. International total: $1.69 billion.

5. "Dear John" (Sony/Relativity): $18.8 million over four days on its second weekend and $16.1 million over three days, down 47%. Domestic total: $56.7 million.

6. "The Tooth Fairy" (Fox/Walden): $7.7 million over four days on its fourth weekend and $6.1 million over three days, down 8%. $1.4 million overseas in 22 foreign markets. Domestic total: $43.6 million. International total: $34.1 million.

7. "From Paris With Love" (Lionsgate/Europa): $6.8 million over four days on its second weekend, $5.5 million over three days, down 32%. Domestic total: $17.9 million.

8. "Edge of Darkness" (Warner Bros./GK Films): $5.7 million over four days on its third weekend, $4.8 million over three days, down 30%. Domestic total: $37.2 million.

9. "Crazy Heart" (Fox Searchlight): $5 million over five days on its ninth weekend, $4.2 million over three days, up 18% as it expanded from 819 theaters to 1,005. Domestic total: $17.5 million.

10. "The Book of Eli"(Warner Bros./Alcon): $4.4 million over four days on its fifth weekend, $3.6 million over three days, down 23%. Domestic total: $88.4 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Photos: (top) Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx, front, in "Valentine's Day." Credit: Ron Batzdorff / Warner Bros

(bottom) Brandon T. Jackson, Logan Lerman and Alexandra Daddario in "Percy Jackson." Credit: 20th Century Fox

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