Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 02-11-13

Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, Stars of “Safe Haven”

Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, Stars of “Safe Haven”

Alcon Entertainment’s PG-13 fantasy drama “Beautiful Creatures”

Alcon Entertainment’s PG-13 fantasy drama “Beautiful Creatures”

“Escape From Planet Earth” – In theaters Valentine’s Day

“Escape From Planet Earth” – In theaters Valentine’s Day

Presidents preview: With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, love is in the air – especially in Hollywood.

Hollywood loves holidays because moviegoing plays a big part in how people celebrate their long weekends. This week brings an unusual combination of February's two big holidays. Valentine's Day will open and Presidents Day will close a five day period in which moviegoing will be high on the list of ways people can keep busy.

Because Valentine's Day falls on a Thursday this year, Hollywood's taking advantage of that timing to launch four new wide releases a day earlier than would usually be the case. And with President's Day falling on Monday, it will be an extended weekend for for many people. And that five day stretch should make the boxoffice mercury climb.

Hollywood should also benefit from the long holiday period following last weekend's East Coast blizzard that left many people snowed in. A visit to the movies this weekend could be the perfect antidote to cabin fever.

What's particularly nice about Valentine's Day and Presidents Day is that they're not tied into traditional ways of celebrating that compete for people's time. Christmas and Thanksgiving, for instance, may be big moviegoing holidays but they really revolve around family gatherings that keep people busy and cut into their time to see films.

July Fourth is another popular day for moviegoing, but if the weather's good it has built-in competition from visiting the beach, picnicking and watching parades and fireworks displays.

On the other hand, dinner and a movie are for many people the perfect way to spend Valentine's Day. And since Presidents Day isn't linked to doing anything special, moviegoing's a great way to make the most of a day off from school or work.

With that in mind, Hollywood has something in theatres for everyone this holiday weekend.

Looking at how the openings are tracking, the biggest boxoffice action should match up with the weekend's biggest action film. 20th Century Fox and Dune Entertainment's R rated crime thriller “A Good Day to Die Hard” is directed by John Moore (“Max Payne”) and stars Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

This latest episode in the blockbuster "Die Hard" franchise follows four previous titles that grossed over $435 million domestically.

The story: John McClane (Willis) goes to Moscow to help his wayward son Jack (Courtney). What he doesn't know is that Jack's a CIA agent who's trying to stop a nuclear weapons heist.

"Day's" tracking in enviable double digits and is doing best with over-25 males and next best with under-25 males. It's been nearly six years since the last episode, “Live Free or Die Hard,” grossed $134.5 million in 2007. Given the new film's huge tracking scores, it's clear that moviegoers are dying to see Willis back in action.

While "Day" is the weekend's strongest draw for men, Hollywood is also fielding films targeted to women and children.

Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment's PG-13 fantasy drama “Beautiful Creatures” is directed by Richard LaGravenese ("P.S. I Love You"). Starring are Alice Englert, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Irons and Alden Ehrenreich.

The Story: Ethan (Ehrenreich) is trying to escape his small Southern town when he meets a mysterious girl, Lena (Englert). Before long they've uncovered dark secrets about their families, their town and themselves.

"Creatures" is tracking best with under-25 women and next best with women over-25. That should translate into plenty of husbands and boyfriends being dragged along to see it Valentine's Day!

Women are also the core audience for Relativity Media's PG-13 romantic mystery “Safe Haven.” Directed by Lasse Hallstrom (“Dear John”), it stars Cobie Smulders, Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. "Haven" is based on a best-selling Nicholas Sparks novel, as was "John," which grossed $80 million domestically in 2010.

The story: Katie (Hough), a mysterious young woman, unexpectedly arrives in a small North Carolina town, prompting questions about her past. When she reluctantly falls in love with Alex (Duhamel), a widower with children, Katie finds herself struggling with a dark secret that still terrifies her.

"Haven's" tracking best with under-25 females and next best with women over 25. Many of them will be telling the men in their lives that this is what they want to see Valentine's Day.

Although the holiday weekend kicks off on a romantic note, it will wind up with parents stressing over how to keep their kids occupied since there's no school Monday. One answer to that will be The Weinstein Company's PG rated 3D animated comedy adventure “Escape From Planet Earth.” From first time feature director Cal Brunker, its voice stars include Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Alba.

The Story: Astronaut Scorch Supernova (Fraser) is a big hero on the planet Baab where he's known for doing daring rescues. Scorch finds himself in big trouble after answering a distress call from a dangerous alien world.

"Earth" is tracking equally well across the board with men under and over-25 and with women under and over 25 – including moms and dads who will need to do something with their young kids over the long weekend.

There will also be an R rated comedy option for moviegoers over the holiday period thanks to the strong opening last weekend for Universal Pictures and Stuber Productions' R rated crime comedy “Identify Thief.” Directed by Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses”), it stars Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman.

"Thief" opened in first place to over $36 million, but the East Coast blizzard probably stole about $4 million from what it would have grossed with better weather conditions. For many people, "Thief" will be something to catch up with since they couldn't get to theatres to see it last weekend. It's tracking best with 25-plus females and nearly as well with women under-25 and could also get a boost from Valentine's Day movie dates.

The story: Sandy ("Horrible Bosses" star Bateman) is a mild-mannered Denver businessman who's forced to take extreme measures to clear his name after his identity's stolen by Diana ("Bridesmaids" star McCarthy). Diana's living it up now in Miami with her all-access pass to Sandy's life.

Bottom line: The five day Valentine's/Presidents holiday weekend should give Hollywood something to celebrate.