Love Beats Hate As ‘Hitch’ KO’s ‘Boogeyman’

Will Smith romantic comedy rules Valentine's Day weekend box office.

As Valentine’s Day approached this weekend, moviegoers sought Cliffs Notes on romance from Will Smith.

The actor/singer’s “Hitch” bowed in the #1 spot on the box-office top 10 this weekend with $45.3 million, according to early estimates. In the romantic comedy, Smith plays a ladies’ man known as “the Date Doctor” to his clients, whom he helps find the women of their dreams. He forgets everything he knows about how to be smooth, though, when he falls for a gossip columnist (Eva Mendes) who sees through his act.

As moviegoers sought romance instead of horror this weekend, last weekend’s #1 movie, “Boogeyman,” dropped to #2. The film about a young man (Barry Watson) who returns to his childhood home to face his lifelong fear that there is a monster (Andrew Glover) living in his closet, took in $10.8 million.

“Are We There Yet?” stayed put at #3 for the second week in a row. The comedy that finds Ice Cube playing the role of bachelor-turned-babysitter took in $8.5 million.

As Oscar fever rises, “Million Dollar Baby” took the lead against “The Aviator,” rising up from #5 to #4. With Hilary Swank starring as the fledgling boxer whom Clint Eastwood’s character reluctantly takes under his wing, “Baby” took in more than $7.5 million.

Oh, bother: The only other new release on the box-office top 10 this week debuted smack in the middle of the list at #5. “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie,” the animated film that finds Hundred-Acre Wood residents Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore and friends going on a search for the mysterious Heffalump — and, of course, learning lessons along the way — took in more than $6 million.

While one romance soared to the top of the list, another fell flat. “The Wedding Date,” which debuted at #2 last week, dropped four spots to #6. The romantic comedy that stars Debra Messing as a woman who, with no date to her sister’s wedding, decides to hire a male escort to accompany her, took in $5.6 million.

Rounding out the top 10 this week are “Hide and Seek,” which drops from #4 to #7 with more than $5.5 million; “Sideways,” which sticks at #8 with more than $4.7 million; “The Aviator,” which falls from #6 to #9 with more than $4.6 million; and “Meet the Fockers,” which slips from #7 to #10 with $3.4 million.

Overall, ticket sales were up slightly from the corresponding weekend last year.

Next week, look for “Constantine,” “Son of the Mask,” and “Because of Winn-Dixie” to debut in the box-office top 10.

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