'Valentine's Day' poised for boxoffice win

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VIDEO: 'Percy Jackson,' 'Wolfman' also open wide

Warner Bros. opens Garry Marshall's "Valentine's Day" on Friday at the start of a four-day frame featuring that holiday and Presidents Day, with the ensemble romantic comedy a prohibitive favorite to top the session with $45 million or more in domestic boxoffice.

Two other big pics also are set to bow wide. Fox sends out kids movie "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," while Universal debuts Benicio Del Toro starrer "The Wolfman."

Date-movie couples will represent key support for "Valentine's," though the PG-13 pic is expected to skew heavily female. Figuring among "Valentine's" star-studded cast are Anne Hathaway, Topher Grace, Jennifer Garner, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Biel, Patrick Dempsey, Jessica Alba, Taylor Lautner, Queen Latifah and Jamie Foxx.

"We're going to have a big weekend," Warners distribution topper Dan Fellman said. "All the stars are aligned, no pun intended."

Directed by Chris Columbus -- who's touted in "Percy" commercials as a "Harry Potter" helmer -- PG-rated "Percy" features teen Logan Lerman in the title role. Based on a series of youth adventure novels, "Percy" should pull in upward of $30 million through Monday.

"There could be a bit of a traffic jam this weekend," Fox distribution boss Bruce Snyder said. "But we're well-positioned with a family movie, as there hasn't been one for a couple weeks."

The release of the Joe Johnston-helmed "Wolfman," co-starring Anthony Hopkins, was delayed four times because of production and marketing considerations. The horror remake originally was set to unspool in November 2008.

"That was something that was written about every time we did it, but it's had no bearing on anything," Uni distribution president Nikki Rocco said. "All you have to do is look at the tracking. The tracking is huge, and it's good with both younger and older demos."

Each of the wide openers is uniquely positioned and "should be compatible with one another," Rocco added.

R-rated "Wolfman" could wolf down $30 million or so during the holiday-bloated weekend.

Fox-distributed "Avatar" should ring up more than $20 million this session. That likely would land it in fourth place, one frame after settling for second place for the first time last weekend.

Last weekend's No. 1 pic -- romantic drama "Dear John" from Sony Screen Gems and Relativity Media -- is expected to absorb a sizable drop from its opening grosses to post a soph-session tally in the teen millions.

Meantime, Fox Searchlight's "Crazy Heart" might be the sole film to enjoy a b.o. bounce from its Oscar nominations, judging from last weekend's ho-hum grosses elsewhere. The Jeff Bridges starrer totes a $12 million-plus cume into this weekend, when it will adds a couple hundred additional venues to its recent 819-theater distribution.

On an industrywide basis, the weekend will be compared with a $221 million Presidents Day session last year that was topped by the $43.6 million bow of Warners' "Friday the 13th."

Hollywood will be looking to jump back into the win column after posting a 26% year-over-year weekend downtick last session. Year to date, the domestic boxoffice is lagging a comparable portion of last year by 2% at $991 million.