Four nationwide releases crowd in to theaters on Valentine's Day, which falls on Thursday this year. Based on the franchise's track record, odds are A Good Day to Die Hard winds up being the highest-grossing entry, though Beautiful Creatures and Safe Haven also appear to be in decent shape.
Over 25 years after John McClane (Bruce Willis) squared off with Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) in the Nakatomi Plaza building, the legendary badass is making his fifth big-screen appearance in A Good Day to Die Hard. By most accounts, the three previous sequels have all failed to live up to the high standard set by the original, but that hasn't stopped audiences from coming back: in 2007, Live Free or Die Hard earned $134.5 million at the domestic box office despite middling reviews and a PG-13 rating.
A Good Day to Die Hard is the biggest stretch of the Die Hard concept yet: this time, McClane teams up with his estranged son to battle terrorists in Russia. 20th Century Fox is pushing the movie hard enough that it will likely wind up with over $100 million at the domestic box office; more importantly, the Moscow setting should help the movie at least match Live Free or Die Hard's $249 million at the foreign box office. Beautiful Creatures is the latest (and probably most blatant) supernatural romance designed to tap in to some of that Twilight cash. The book series, which began in 2009, isn't nearly as popular as Twilight was when the first movie opened in 2008, though it's more well-known than I Am Number Four, which opened at the same time in 2011. With a female lead and a supernatural rather than extraterrestrial focus, Beautiful Creatures also hits the target demographic better than I Am Number Four, so it should have no problem topping that movie's $55.1 million. Safe Haven is angling to be this year's The Vow, which opened before Valentine's Day last year and ultimately earned $125 million. Unfortunately, Safe Haven's Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough can't compare to The Vow's Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, and the vague story isn't as compelling either. Still, Nicholas Sparks adaptations are pretty consistent performers, and a final tally around $60 million (the Sparks average) isn't too far-fetched.
With its low-grade animation, recycled story, and tricky genre (sci-fi animation), Escape From Planet Earth has all the makings of a box office bomb. It does have one major advantage, though, that could trump all the negativesit's the first PG-rated movie to open since Christmas. Gnomeo and Juliet had a similar situation in 2011 and wound up with nearly $100 million: Escape from Planet Earth won't get to that point, but it could still do decent business (think Hoodwinked's $51.4 million). February 22
After the wealth of Valentine's Day releases, things quiet down again on the final weekend of February with two modest releases.
Crime thriller Snitch stars The Rock as a father who agrees to go undercover in order to save his son from a lengthy prison setting. While The Rock is a fairly reliable box office draw, his movies tend to perform best when they are family-oriented (ensemble movie Fast Five is a notable exception). His last gritty action movie was 2010's Faster, which tanked with just $23.2 million. Coming off his strong 2011 and 2012, The Rock should be able to get Snitch to a higher level, though it will still be a modest performer at best. Dark Skies is February's entry in the ever-popular low-budget PG-13 horror movie genre. It could suffer a bit from its extraterrestrial angle, so its marketing looks like it's straight from the supernatural horror playbook. Ultimately, this should be a modestly successful, but quickly forgettable movie.