The Relativity romance "Safe Haven" just might pull off a Valentine's Day surprise at the box office on Thursday, but “A Good Day to Die Hard" should easily capture the crown over the long holiday weekend.
The combination of a Nicolas Sparks adaptation and one of the year's biggest date nights will give it a boost and could even propel the Julianne Hough-Josh Duhamel love fest into the top spot, at least on the first day of the five-day holiday weekend, industry analysts say.
"Let's face it: there are a lot more die-hard lovers out there than 'Die Hard' fans," Exhibitor Relations senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap Thursday, "and I'm pretty sure when push comes to tug-of-the-heart, ladies choose which movie to go to on Valentine's Day."
That's likely true, but regardless of who wins Thursday, the $92-million Bruce Willis action film is projected to take in as much as $50 million over the five days for Fox. That's roughly twice what the PG-13 "Safe Haven' is expected manage, but with a $28 million production budget, the bar for a successful opening is considerably lower for Relativity.
"A Good Day to Die Hard" opened with limited late-night shows Wednesday and took in $840,000 from 2,328 theaters, a $361 per-location average. As of Thursday, the latest in the "Die Hard" franchise is in 3,552 locations, 302 of which are Imax theaters. "Safe Haven" is in 3,223.
Willis reprises his role as John McClane in "A Good Day to Die Hard," the fifth film in the franchise and the first since 2007. McClane travels to Russia to help his estranged son (Jai Courtney) get out of prison, but gets caught in the cross hairs of a terrorist plot. John Moore (“Max Payne”) directs.
The weekend's other wide openers are the PG-13 supernatural romance "Beautiful Creatures" from Alcon Entertainment, which Warner Bros. is distributing, and the Weinstein Company's 3D computer-animated kids film "Escape From Planet Earth."
In "Safe Haven," directed by Lasse Halstrom (“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”). Hough plays a mysterious young woman who lands in the small town of Southport, N.C., and is reluctantly drawn into a relationship, only to have a dark secret arise from her past.