Despite Winter Storm Nemo bombarding the Northeast with blizzard conditions and closing a number of theaters in major cities like Chicago, New York, and Boston, the box office surged this weekend thanks to strong holdovers and the debut of Identity Thief, the first major R-rated comedy of 2013. In a truly remarkable feat, only one of the top ten films in America fell by more than 50% (that would be Stallone’s Bullet To The Head – does anyone still remember this film exists?), and with the Academy Award nominations keeping films steady and in demand, the box office deserves one hell of a victory lap today. After an abysmal January that saw multiple action films stumble out of the gate, February is picking up some major slack, and with Valentine’s Day romances and prospective March blockbusters on the horizon, Hollywood must be praying that this weekend’s good fortunes are the start of 2013’s box office prosperity; click below for a full box office report:
Top 10 Films (February 8-10)
1. Identity Thief – $36.5 million
2. Warm Bodies – $11.5 million
3. Side Effects – $10 million
4. Silver Linings Playbook – $6.9 million
5. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – $5.7
6. Mama – $4.3 million
7. Zero Dark Thirty – $4 million
8. Argo – $2.5 million
9. Django Unchained – $2.3 million
10. Bullet To The Head – $1.9 million
With a truly impressive $36.5 million, Seth Gordon’s Indentity Thief easily took the box office crown with the highest opening of 2013 so far. Thief’s healthy debut proves two things, the first being the continual popularity of the R-rated comedy. Ever since Judd Apatow pioneered the vulgarly heartfelt R-rated comedy, the genre has become one of Hollywood’s most blockbuster niches, and despite 2012 being a dead-or-alive year for such films (The Dictator, The Watch, That’s My Boy, and Apatow’s own This is 40 all stumbled), Identity Thief shows that audiences still love the raunch when its marketed straightforward and effectively. By putting the straight man Jason Bateman vs. the out of control Melissa McCarthy at the forefront of the marketing, Identity Thief sold its goods and audiences clearly ate it up. If Thief follows a similar trajectory to Gordon’s last R-rated hit, 2011’s Horrible Bosses, it should have no problem exceeding $100 million and settling for a total haul just below $150 million, insanely good for a film that cost $35 million to make (yup, it made back its entire budget within its first weekend).
The second major thing Thief proved this weekend is the appeal and star power of Melissa McCarthy. After breaking out last year and earning an Oscar-nomination for her role in Bridesmaids, many were viewing Thief as McCarthy’s big test to see if she could successfully break out of her supporting character movie norm (seen again in This is 40). Is it any question that she passed with flying colors? With great charm in her verbal comedy and laugh-out-loud bravery in her physical, McCarthy has become a comedic superstar of sorts in the past year (she even won an EMMY for her role on Mike and Molly), and Thief’s huge success this weekend is proof that audiences can’t get enough of this funny women. The film even grossed $10 million more than Bridesmaids did two summers ago. Though Jason Bateman is a fine comedian with a built in fan base as well, the marketing clearly pushed McCarthy’s eyebrow raising antics and the success of the film is mostly on her shoulders. All of this should bode extremely well for McCarthy’s next R-rated buddy movie, The Heat, which teams her up with Sandra Bullock and Bridesmaids director Paul Feig this June.
In its second weekend, teen zombie rom-com Warm Bodies slipped to #2, falling 43.5% and taking in an additional $11.5 million. For a female-skewing young adult novel adaption, a low 40% is pretty impressive (the Twilight films normally dropped 70% or more), and with a grand total of $36 million and counting, Warm Bodies is definitely an early success story of the year (luckily, it should get a nice little boost this weekend thanks to Valentine’s Day). In third place, Side Effects failed to catch the attention of mainstream audiences and grossed an “ok” $10 million, which is rather unfortunate considering it was famed director Steven Soderbergh’s last feature film. Though Soderbergh had box office hits with Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s 11, and Magic Mike, the rest of his filmography and his more genre specific films have consistently preformed quietly at the box office, and despite strong reviews, Side Effects joined a long list of great, under-seen Soderbergh films like The Girlfriend Experience, Che, and Haywire. Here’s hoping the great Rooney Mara finds better success in the future!
Elsewhere on the charts, Oscar winners continued to hold strong as the Oscar home stretch approaches with just 2 weeks left before the big show. Best Picture nominees Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Lincoln, and Life of Pi all dipped within the 20% range, taking their totals way past $100 million, making this year’s crop of nominees the highest grossing group in recent memory. In 4th place, Silver Linings Playbook once again proved it’s the most beloved movie of the moment, dipping a slight 10.7% for a great $6 million in its 13th week of release. With $90 million and 2 weeks left before the Oscars (and a very good chance of a win for Jennifer Lawrence), Silver Linings is bound to join the aforementioned films in the Oscar $100 million club by the end of its run. Recognition must also be given to Ben Affleck’s Best Picture frontrunner, Argo, which in its 18th week of release jumped 23% and took in $2.5 million. Can this movie be stopped? At this point it doesn’t seem likely! Congratulations Mr. Affleck, let this weekend remind you that you are an A-list director in every sense of the word!
Did you go to the movies this weekend? What did you see?
Article by Zack Sharf