LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Garry Marshall’s “Valentine’s Day,” which opens Friday, is a prohibitive favorite to top the four-day frame that includes the movie’s namesake holiday and Presidents Day.
The ensemble romantic comedy from Warner Bros. is expected to claim the weekend’s box-office crown with $45 million or more in domestic receipts.
Two other big pictures also are set to bow wide. Twentieth Century Fox sends out kids’ movie “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” while Universal debuts the Benicio Del Toro-starring horror remake “The Wolfman.”
Date-movie couples will represent key support for “Valentine’s,” though the PG-13 movie is expected to skew heavily female. Figuring among “Valentine’s” cast are Anne Hathaway, Topher Grace, Jennifer Garner, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Biel, Patrick Dempsey, Jessica Alba, Taylor Lautner, Queen Latifah and Jamie Foxx.
“We’re going to have a big weekend,” Warners distribution chief Dan Fellman said. “All the stars are aligned, no pun intended.”
Directed by Chris Columbus — who’s touted in “Percy” commercials as a “Harry Potter” helmer — PG-rated “Percy” features teen Logan Lerman in the title role. Based on a series of youth adventure novels, “Percy” should pull in upward of $30 million through Monday.
“There could be a bit of a traffic jam this weekend,” Fox distribution boss Bruce Snyder said. “But we’re well positioned with a family movie, as there hasn’t been one for a couple weeks.”
The release of the Joe Johnston-directed “Wolfman,” co-starring Anthony Hopkins, was delayed four times because of production and marketing considerations. The film originally was set to unspool in November 2008.
“That was something that was written about every time we did it, but it’s had no bearing on anything,” Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said. “All you have to do is look at the tracking. The tracking is huge, and it’s good with both younger and older demos.”
Each of the debuting wide releases is uniquely positioned and “should be compatible with one another,” Rocco added. R-rated “Wolfman” could wolf down $30 million or so during the holiday-bloated weekend.
Fox-distributed “Avatar” should ring up more than $20 million this session. That likely would land it in fourth place, after settling for second place for the first time last weekend, after seven weeks at No. 1.
Last weekend’s No. 1 movie — romantic drama “Dear John,” from Sony Screen Gems and Relativity Media — is expected to absorb a sizable drop from its opening grosses to post a sophomore-session tally in the teen millions.
Meantime, Fox Searchlight’s “Crazy Heart” might be the sole film to enjoy a box-office bounce from its Oscar nominations, judging from last weekend’s ho-hum grosses elsewhere. The Jeff Bridges-starring drama totes a $12 million-plus total into this weekend, when it will add a couple of hundred venues to its recent 819-theater distribution.
Hollywood will be looking to jump back into the win column after posting a 26 percent year-over-year weekend downtick last session. Year to date, the domestic box office is lagging the comparable period of 2009 by 2 percent at $991 million.