Weekend Wrap-Up

Melissa McCarthy a Blizzard at the Box Office

By John Hamann

February 10, 2013

Nobody ever wants to talk to Jason Bateman.

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We’ve got a one-woman wrecking crew at the box this weekend, and her name is Melissa McCarthy. Her new film, Identity Thief, opened bigger than Bridesmaids, despite a May versus February release date - and a blizzard.

With some in the Northeast thinking that today IS the day after tomorrow, the argument starts now about the effect of the blizzard some are calling Nemo. We know the Melissa McCarthy/Jason Bateman comedy Identity Thief showed up strongly this weekend, but the rest of the pack left something to be desired. The top 12 films this weekend grossed $89.6 million, where over the February 10-12, 2012 weekend, the top two films alone (The Vow and Safe House) grossed $81.4 million. A year earlier was the February 11th - 13th weekend, and the top three films earned $85.4 million. A lot of the discrepancy has to do with how Valentine’s Day falls, with this year’s romantic day falling on a Thursday, when four new films come out, taking advantage of both President’s Day AND Valentine’s Day. The last time the calendar configuration was the same as this year was in 2008. That year, the weekend before Valentine’s Day had a top 12 gross of about $90 million, so one assumes this weekend’s overall total is off about 10-15% of the norm.


With our other openers this weekend being quite small (they include Steven Soderbergh’s self-proclaimed final theatrical film, Side Effects, and a re-release of Top Gun in 3D), Identity Thief had the playing field almost to itself and took advantage. The box office has been dry of laughs for quite a while. If we don’t include Warm Bodies, the last comedy to finish on top was Ted, which was number one way back in early July. Identity Thief was marketed hard (much like Warm Bodies), and the payoff is truly large. As Kim Hollis reported yesterday, Identity Thief had an $11.2 million opening day – despite the storm – and cruised to a weekend gross of $36.6 million. That gross beat expectations, but was handicapped by a blizzard in the Northeast that slowed or stopped 10% of the movie going population in North America.

Universal Pictures wins again with Melissa McCarthy, as they were also the studio behind Bridesmaids, which gave McCarthy her breakout opportunity. Bridesmaids earned $169 million domestically and another $119 million overseas, all against a budget of only $33 million. With an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids, McCarthy is more of a known quantity now (the actress also appears in the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly), which helped propel Identity Thief beyond Bridesmaids, at least in terms of opening weekend. Bridesmaids got started with a $26.2 million opening, but was able to able to multiply its opening weekend by about 6.5 before it was done. It is doubtful that Identity Thief will do the same, as it got drubbed by critics. Of the 102 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, a surprising 77 were to the negative, leaving it with a 25% fresh rating. On the slightly more positive side, the Cinemascore for Identity Thief was a middling B, which should cause a mix of word-of-mouth.

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