Dear JohnIt wasn't some rock 'em, sock 'em action flick that knocked 'Avatar' off the top of the box-office charts; and it wasn't a broad, gross-out Judd Apatow comedy, either. All it took was an old-fashioned, tear-jerker romance like 'Dear John,' which took in $32 million to 'Avatar''s $23 million last weekend.

It seems like a no-brainer now, but despite being panned by critics, Lasse Hallstrom's tearful romance between Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum has proven an old Hollywood truism: you can't fake chemistry. And with the onset of Valentine's Day there's no better way to pack moviegoers into the theater than a romance.

In fact, if a new report from Forbes is any indication, a steamy love story is the best bet to launch a franchise into the box-office stratosphere. Dear JohnIt wasn't some rock 'em, sock 'em action flick that knocked 'Avatar' off the top of the box-office charts; and it wasn't a broad, gross-out Judd Apatow comedy, either. All it took was an old-fashioned, tear-jerker romance like 'Dear John,' which took in $32 million to 'Avatar''s $23 million last weekend.

It seems like a no-brainer now, but despite being panned by critics, Lasse Hallstrom's tearful romance between Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum has proven an old Hollywood truism: you can't fake chemistry. And with the onset of Valentine's Day there's no better way to pack moviegoers into the theater than a romance.

In fact, if a new report from Forbes is any indication, a steamy love story is the best bet to launch a franchise into the box-office stratosphere.

The site recently took a closer look at the top-earning movie couples of the past 20 years, with top honors going to, of all movies, 'Lord of the Rings.'

Sure, fanboys flocked to the trilogy to geek out on wizards, hairy-footed Hobbits and gnarly Orcs. But according to the report, what made their gal-pals come back to the tune of $2.9 billion was the hot on-screen coupling of Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler.

Likewise, what's the most memorable scene from the three 'Spider-Man' films? Not the web-slinging, the Green Goblin, or that sandy dude. Be honest, it was that upside-down kiss between Kirsten Dunst and Toby Maguire -- who ranked second on the list -- that turned it into a sturdy $2.5 billion franchise. Even with the announcement that the next installment will feature a new director and new stars, it's a story built to last.

The next hottest couple on Forbes' list is Leo and Kate, as in DiCaprio and Winslet. As in 'Titantic.' It pulled in $1.8 billion worldwide, but you can be sure those folks didn't buy a ticket just to see a boat sink.

See the full list at Forbes.com.

(Note: The Report says that each acting pair had to appear in more than one film together.)
CATEGORIES Movies