Warner's aptly timed Valentine's Day packed in audiences over Presidents Day weekend. The ensemble romantic comedy surged past its lofty pre-release expectations with a very impressive four-day start of $63.14 million. That represents the largest four-day Presidents Day weekend gross ever, as it easily topped the previous record of $52.02 million set by 2007's Ghost Rider. Furthermore, the $56.26 million 3-day gross for Valentine's Day represented the third largest February debut of all-time (behind 2004's The Passion of the Christ and 2001's Hannibal) and the largest opening weekend of 2010 thus far.
As strong as the opening weekend performance was for Valentine's Day, the film took quite a dive on Monday. Valentine's Day was down 71 percent from Sunday's Valentine's Day inflated gross. That placed Valentine's Day in second on Monday (behind Fox's Percy Jackson) and could point towards to large declines in the weeks ahead now that Valentine's Day is over.
Also outpacing expectations was Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. The Chris Columbus directed adaptation of the fantasy novel opened in a strong second place with $38.66 million over the holiday weekend. That represents the sixth largest four-day Presidents Day weekend performance on record, as the film outpaced recent Presidents Day openers such as 2008's Jumper ($32.09 million) and The Spiderwick Chronicles ($24.74 million) and 2007's Bridge to Terabithia ($28.54 million). Percy Jackson was a bit front-loaded towards Friday this weekend for a family film opening over a holiday weekend, which suggests that the film is skewing a bit older than both Spiderwick Chronicles and Bridge to Terabithia did.
There was also plenty of room for Universal's The Wolfman. The R-rated horror remake starring Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins opened on the high end of expectations with a four-day take of $35.56 million. The Wolfman delivered the seventh largest Presidents Day debut ever, as it opened 6 percent ahead of the $33.62 million start of 2005's Constantine. Over the three-day frame The Wolfman actually outpaced Percy Jackson and the Olympians by $243,168 to finish in second place.
Despite the fact that this weekend's three new releases brought in a combined $137.4 million into the marketplace, Fox's Avatar was still able to hold up very well once again this weekend. The record-breaking sci-fi film from director James Cameron continues to benefit greatly from its 3D engagements, as it scored $28.78 million in its ninth weekend of release. That was up 15 percent from last weekend (when including last Monday) and brings the film's 60-day gross to $666.39 million. Avatar should continue to hold up well until it loses 3D screens to Disney's Alice in Wonderland on March 5th.
Sony's Dear John was down four-spots and a sharp 44 percent (when including last Monday) from last weekend's first place performance. The modestly budgeted romantic drama starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried grossed $18.20 million and was clearly hurt by Valentine's Day winning the battle for the Valentine's Day audience in a big way. Despite the second weekend slide, Dear John is still performing very well so far with an eleven-day start of $56.08 million.
With Presidents Day grosses for a number of films coming in lower than estimated on Monday, this weekend's four-day combined box office totaled just under $240 million. That still broke last year's $220.7 million four-day record for Presidents Day weekend by a comfortable margin.