Three studios are hoping moviegoers are in the mood for love this Valentine’s Day, as Hollywood is releasing three films this weekend with romance at the heart of their story lines.
Surprisingly, romantic movies haven't been as successful when released in February, so this weekend’s triple threat is something of a rarity.
About Last Night
The most high-profile of the trio is Sony (NYSE:SNE) Screen Gems’ About Last Night, which is a remake of the classic '80s hit. This time the movie has a makeover to an African-American cast, and it benefits from the popularity of leads Kevin Hart and Michael Ealy. The contemporary version follows two couples who meet at a bar and looks at how those relationships play out over time.
Night is the only comedy of the three and has the red-hot Hart to help draw in viewers. Nobody is having a better 2014 right now than Hart following Ride Along. Add in Ealy, who has gotten a lot of exposure from his role fronting Fox‘s Almost Human, and a pair of strong female actresses -- Regina Long and Joy Bryant -- and Night could be poised to do some damage this weekend with around $25 million if not more.
For the teens Universal (a subsidiary of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA)) is releasing Endless Love, which plays off the popular “forbidden love” premise. Starring Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde, the drama centers on a privileged girl who falls for a charismatic boy from the wrong side of the tracks. As their relationship grows, her parents get involved and you can probably guess they aren’t thrilled with their daughter’s choice.
Over the last few years Valentine’s Day dramas have fared better than comedies and Love may be able to capitalize on that trend. The problem is that Pettyfer has been “this close” to breaking through for three years and has yet to really do so. That puts the movie at a disadvantage as Wilde herself is still an up-and-comer with only a few notable roles (the remakes of Carrie and The Three Musketeers) on her resume.
Part of the reason for the success of Dear John, The Vow, and Safe Haven were its stars, which in two cases was the very bankable Channing Tatum. That’s not to say Love won’t play well, because it has been getting a lot of promotion, but expect this one to be closer to Safe Haven’s haul than The Vow, which should place it in the $15 million range at best.
Fantasy lovers will also have a box office selection with Warner Bros.’ (a subsidiary of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX.DL)) Winter’s Tale. The movie stars Colin Farrell as a thief who falls for a woman (Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown-Findlay) whose house he intended to rob. The twist though is a sad one as we quickly learn she’s dying and he may hold the key to saving her.
Now if that was it, that would be one thing, but the movie looks to cram way too many elements into one picture. The pair’s love story gets more complicated as time travel, magic, and a mobster (Russell Crowe) are introduced, likely leading to as many shrugs of confusion as heartfelt moments. I have no idea how all these elements ultimately come together, so I anticipate audiences will get a bit lost in what looks like it could be a Valentine's mess. If this tops $10 million, I’ll be shocked.