By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood February 16, 2013 at 2:00PM
After a disastrous weekend when grosses dipped to half of last year's, two new releases and one strong holdover continued the Thursday Valentine's Day rebound. Friday's Top Ten total is close to the 2012 sum. Three of the week's four new films premiered a day earlier. All three fell off their initial numbers, though, suggesting that the recovery is not complete, even for just one weekend. (We'll report holiday weekend totals on Monday.)
Fox's "A Good Day to Die Hard" and Relativity's "Safe Haven" were one-two for Friday, flipping their positions (possibly not for the last time), both grossing a bit over $7 million. Close on their heels was Universal's "Identity Thief," down around 40% from last Friday, and likely to have a better hold for the whole weekend.
Warner Bros.' "Beautiful Creatures" (in its second day) and Weinstein's debuting animated "Escape from Planet Earth" lagged behind. The former only placed sixth for the day, clearly losing the battle for younger female audiences to "Safe Haven." "Escape" placed fourth, but should show improvement over the weekend as the sole kids film in the market.
The verdict on the full weekend is out. For whatever reason, Valentine's Day was much stronger for opening pictures this year than in 2008, the last time it fell on a Thursday (that year four new films opened). But the new films this year fell about 15% from the prior day, as opposed to going up last year by the same amount. Combined, the two-day results are quite close. How the new films hold over the rest of the weekend will indicate whether the recent pattern of falling grosses continues or if things might be righting themselves at last.
The other big change is that, for the first time in months, only one Oscar contender - "Silver Linings Playbook" - placed in the Top Ten. This is a factor mainly of theater count loss with major new films replacing lower-grossing holdovers. But the Weinstein romcom managed to drop only around 10% despite losing several hundred theaters and looks likely to hit $100 million by Monday. The other strong hold was Lionsgate's "Warm Bodies," off only around 20% on its third Friday.
Top Ten (in $ millions + total)
1. A Good Day to Die Hard (20th Century Fox) $7.2/$15.5
2. Safe Haven (Relativity) $7.1/$16.0
3. Identity Thief (Universal) $6.5/$53.8
4. Escape from Planet Earth (Weinstein) $3.7/$3.7
5. Warm Bodies (Lionsgate) $2.6/$43.8
6. Beautiful Creatures (Warner Bros.) $2.3/$4.9
7. Side Effects (Open Road) $1.7/$14.5
8. Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) $1.4/$93.8
9. Hansel and Gretel (Paramount) $.9/$47.1
10. Mama (Universal) $.8/$66.2