"Valentine's Day" like candy at movie box offices

Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:50pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedy "Valentine's Day' was like a box of chocolates to movie fans over the weekend, landing atop North American box office charts and helping treat major U.S. movie studios to record holiday ticket sales.

The romantic comedy with Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Taylor Lautner, Bradley Cooper and Jessica Alba among an ensemble of top stars, stirred moviegoers to spend $66.9 million over the four days ending on Monday's President's Day holiday in the United States, according to studio estimates.

Family adventure "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief," a new entry into theaters, ended in the No. 2 spot with sales of $38.8 million over the four-day period to edge No. 3 film, thriller "The Wolfman" with $36.5 million.

In all, the three new movies helped sweeten the President's Day holiday with a four-day box office tally of $245 million, beating last year's $220 million which was the previous best for the holiday, according to Hollywood.com Box Office.

"Avatar," the top film of all time in terms of box office, slipped to No. 4 on ticket charts with a four-day total of $30 million. Its cumulative sales now stand at $668 million in the United States and Canada.

Last week's No. 1 movie, romantic drama "Dear John" rounded out the top five films, landing in the fifth spot with $18.8 million in ticket sales over the four days and boosting its cumulative total to $57 million.

Elsewhere, Bollywood production "My Name is Khan" with Indian star Shah Rukh Khan took in $2.3 million from 120 theaters in the four-day frame in the United States, for a relatively high per screen average of $18,958.

The movie, in which Khan portrays an autistic man subject to racial bias in the United States, debuted at the Berlin Film Festival over the weekend and has sparked outrage in India from a Hindu group protesting comments made by Khan.

"Valentine's Day" was released by Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc. "The Wolfman" was distributed by Universal Pictures, part of the NBC/Universal media division of General Electric. "Percy Jackson" and "Avatar" were distributed by 20th Century Fox and "Khan" by Fox Searchlight, all are units of News Corp. "Dear John" was released by the Screen Gems unit of Sony Corp's Sony Pictures Entertainment.

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte, Editing by Sandra Maler)