This was McCarthy's first big test of her alleged stardom. Identity Thief was completely sold on McCarthy's new-found stardom. The core imagery was basically her face on the poster, slipping a Slurpee next to a befuddled Jason Bateman. This is a much larger debut than Bridesmaids, the film which catapulted her to fame and proverbial glory back in May, 2011. This is among the ten-best R-rated comedy debuts ever and the fifth-best for a non-sequel. Heck, it opened bigger than the PG-13 Couples Retreat, which had a proverbial whos-who of comedy players (Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, and Kristen Bell) and managed a $34 million debut back in October 2009. Fox has to be thrilled at the moment, knowing that they have a plausible gold-mine in the Melissa McCarthy/Sandra Bullock action-comedy The Heat waiting in the wings for June of this summer.
Jim Carrey has basically stopped trying to be a box office champion (to the betterment of his career, I'd argue). Adam Sandler is retreating the safety of unnecessary sequels after the relative disappointments of Funny People, Jack and Jill, and That's My Boy. Will Ferrell alternating between pure comedy vehicles and borderline art films like Everything Must Go (and also retreating to the safety of unnecessary sequels). None of the above are going anywhere, but McCarthy may very well be the next surefire comedy opener for awhile, as the $36.5 million figure puts near the upper-regions of said Carrey/Ferrell/Sandler vehicles. The film received terrible reviews and pulled a B from Cinemascore. But even if word of mouth hurts the film, we're still looking at a $35 million production that should crack $100 million domestic without too much effort.
The film played 58% female and 57% over 30 years old. It has a good shot at becoming the de-facto 'second choice' of general/adult moviegoers in the next month, along with the also R-rated A Good Day To Die Hard. Sure it's allegedly terrible and no this doesn't mean McCarthy can necessarily open anything other than a broad comedy, but that's something in an era where would-be movie stars are defined more by their ability to garner magazine covers and TMZ-esque media attention than their actually to open movies, McCarthy may-well be a new honest-to-goodness movie star. Or this could be her Sweet Home Alabama, a perfect mix of a certain movie star (Reese Witherspoon) in a certain movie that appeals to a large swath of the populace and whose success is never replicated again. We'll see...
Soderbergh certainly has as many box office smashes (Ocean's 11) as he does whiffs (The Good German) and/or 'success related to low budgets' (The Informer!) entries, and this $30 million thriller clearly falls in that third category. Rooney Mara may be one of the more promising actresses of her generation, but she's not box office. And Jude Law may be a fine thespian and a terrific foil, but he's never ever been 'box office' either. There's not much to say about this one. Open Road produced this one and allegedly spent just $20 million on marketing, so $25 million here and $25 million overseas will lead to eventual break-even status. It's not a financial windfall, but sometimes you do it just to be the studio that distributed Steven Soderbergh's last theatrical picture.
Other than that, the only major release, if you can call it that, is the 200 screen IMAX 3D release of Paramount's Top Gun. The film comes out on 3D Blu Ray this month, which is pretty much the point of this glorified advertisement. The film earned a decent enough $1.9 million, which is actually better than the $1.6 million that Raiders of the Lost Ark earned in its IMAX rerelease last September. That Paramount picture earned another $3.1 million in advance of its Blu Ray debut, so Top Gun is looking like adding another $4 million to its coffers, or enough to get it over the $180 million mark. What's notable is that this was once intended to be a major re-release but was downgraded to IMAX-only.
It seems like the whole 3D reissue will live or die depending on the performance of Jurassic Park 3D in April. Also worth noting is that Paramount seems to have tapped into a limited, but profitable, new revenue stream. There surely isn't enough of an audience of people wanting to see Top Gun on a big screen converted to 3D and/or IMAX, but there is a limited enough audience to justify such a thing on just a couple hundred screens, especially among people who have already pre-ordered those Blu Rays. This won't set the theatrical world on fire, but using IMAX is a nice way to serve the limited marketplace for such nostalgia-fueled re-releases.
That's it for this weekend. Join us next time for a massive Valentine's Day/President's Day release slate, as A Good Day to Die Hard (review Wednesday) and Beautiful Creatures (review Thursday) face off against Safe Haven and the animated Escape From Planet Earth. Until then, cheers!