The 14th of February, Valentine’s Day, the day for lovers and the day of romance, is coming on a Friday this year. Hollywood has jumped on this day with gleeful hands and has three romantic films lined up for the weekend. The first one is Akiva Goldsman’s directorial debut Winter’s Tale with a prominent cast that has Collin Farrell and Russell Crowe along with a cameo by Will Smith. Jessica Brown Findlay is playing the love interest in this romantic fantasy tale about a burglar who falls for a dying girl. Then there is the romcom About Last Night whose title itself seems suggestive of the basic plot. This one stars Kevin Hart who has already scored big with Ride Along and may be carrying a bit of goodwill from that movie. And then finally we have the more serious romantic drama about young love with Endless Love, a story of a privileged girl and a poorer boy whose love story hits roadbumps when their parents try to keep them apart. This one is a remake of the 1981 film of the same name. And in all this “love”, Sony is releasing its reboot of RoboCop, something which has little to do with Valentine’s Day, but the studio may have figured that there should be a lot of people looking for a non-romantic film to enjoy over the weekend, and their only option could be watching a part-man, part-robot police officer. But the question we want to figure out is this, what happens on Valentine’s Day in Hollywood? Do the romantic films become the most popular ones to watch, or is there a twist in the tale and V-Day actually sees other films do better? Let’s do some digging.
Last year, Valentine’s Day fell on a Thursday. Close to the weekend. So not a bad time to release a romantic film either, if the studios were keen on it. There were three releases on that day. A film with enough romance and drama, Safe Haven, a film with fantasy attached with the romance, Beautiful Creatures, and a film with absolutely nothing to do with romance unless romance was all about big guns and hard fists, A Good Day to Die Hard. And romance won with Safe Haven! This Josh Duhamel – Julianne Hough film topped the domestic box-office on V-Day last year and eventually earned a solid $71 million against its production budget of $28 million. Interestingly, the movie that came a close second on that particular day was the non-romantic film A Good Day to Die Hard which, though the weakest of the franchise, did benefit from the franchise effect. Beautiful Creatures completely bombed, and thus it wasn’t all joyous for love last year.
Moving back in time, 14th February of 2012 was a Tuesday. A strange day for a studio to release a film for it is not adjacent to either of the weekends. The trick here is to figure out which weekend to choose. Two movies took two different approaches. The Channing Tatum – Rachel McAdams film The Vow released on the weekend before and thus was already running in theatres when V-Day emerged. Another romcom This Means War starring Reese Witherspoon as the love interest to battle for, with Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as the ‘gladiators’ opened for a single day on 14th February before releasing again on the coming weekend. Eventually the movie that took love more seriously won. The Vow, despite already having been in the theatres, was the preferred destination, and saw its day’s earnings climb from $3.3 million on Monday to $11.6 million on Tuesday, i.e. V-Day. This Means War on the other hand hardly generated any interest and earned only $1.6 million on that day. Again, the movie finishing second on the 14th had nothing to do with romance, not even the faintest notion of love, but was the thriller Safe House which was a surprise hit of the year too.
With 14th February of 2011 being a Monday, it was pretty much a no-brainer. Release the movie on the prior weekend, and get a good turnout on Monday as well. That is exactly what happened. Adam Sandler romcom flick Just Go With It did good business on the weekend, and then took in $6.0 million on Monday too, and was deemed a successful film by the end of its run. In 2010 though, Valentine’s Day fell on the perfect day, a Sunday, and the perfect time to release a film called, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day. This film with an ensemble cast was as mushy as you could get it, and having V-Day fall on a Sunday got the film its biggest eyeballs, when it earned $23.4 million on this special day for lovers! Any guesses for who finished a distinct second on that day? The Wolfman. Releasing an R-rated high budget horror film on a weekend where people want to get cosy with their loved ones does not seem a smart move, and the movie predictably flopped. The only other wide release on that weekend with V-Day right at the end of it was the fantasy based film Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief which too had not much to cheer about.
Valentine’s Day in 2008 had a strange set of film releases. Four, just like the current year, but only one of them was a true romantic film. And that film finished third of the lot on V-Day. Where was the love, people? Sci-fi Jumper topped the box-office, followed by the dance flick Step Up 2 The Streets, while the romantic film Definitely, Maybe with a wonderful cast of Ryan Reynolds, Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher and Abigail Breslin, earned only $3.1 million on the 14th and was left behind. In fact the audience preferred the rather sub-standard adventure film (with a bit of romance) Fool’s Gold that had released a week back over Definitely, Maybe on V-Day. Sometimes love just doesn’t work, eh!?
Well, we could go on and on, turning back time, and looking at all the Valentine’s Days that have gone by. A quick rundown would go something like this: 2007 had the romantic battle being won by Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls over the Hugh Grant starrer Music & Lyrics, 2006 saw the horror film Final Destination 3 top followed by the comedy film The Pink Panther with no room for old-fashioned romance, 2005 had the romcom film Hitch with Will Smith score big, 2004 saw another romcom 50 First Dates steal the show… and so on.
What we gather from this is that romantic films usually win the day on Valentine’s Day. That does not sound a very surprising fact, come to think of it. Though there have been the oddball instances when the non-romantic flicks have also been a hit with the audience on this day, so all hope is not yet lost for RoboCop. And yet one or more of the three romantic flicks releasing this weekend could be stealing the show come Valentine’s Day. It is after all the day for love to grow and blossom, and sitting alongside your special one in a darkened hall as a romantic story unfurls on a large screen in front of your eyes could be a special way to spend the evening, won’t you agree!?