'Identity Thief' earns $37 million while Rex Reed cries

Identity Thief was a movie hardly anyone liked starring an actress critic Rex Reed referred to variously as “tractor sized” and “a hippo,” but just like the mighty hippo of the thundering Zambezi, Identity Thief grossed almost $37 million at the box office this weekend. Does that simile work? Whatever, I’ll check it later.

At 3,141 locations, Identity Thief earned an estimated $36.6 million this weekend. That’s one of the best openings ever for an original R-rated comedy, and it’s director Seth Gordon’s top start ahead of Four Christmases ($31.1 million) and Horrible Bosses ($28.3 million). It’s also way up from Melissa McCarthy’s Bridesmaids ($26.2 million); all three of the aforementioned titles wound up closing with at least $117 million, which suggests a $100 million finish is within reach for Identity Thief.
The Top 12 wound up earning an estimated $89.6 million this weekend, which is off a whopping 48 percent from last year when The Vow and Safe House both opened to over $40 million.
Universal is projecting that Winter Storm Nemo knocked around 10 percent off the weekend, which lines up with what competitive studios are estimating as well. This suggests that, without the storm, Identity Thief could have debuted north of $40 million.
Universal is reporting that the audience was 58 percent female (meaning McCarthy’s fans showed up alongside date-night audiences) and 57 percent were 30 years of age or older. The movie received a middling “B” CinemaScore, which isn’t surprising given the movie’s atrocious 24 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. [BoxOfficeMojo]

$37 million on a down weekend with terrible reviews and bad word of mouth is nothing short of incredible. If studios weren’t trying to stick Melissa McCarthy in everything before, they sure as hell will be now. At some point, she and Rebel Wilson may have to fight. I’m okay with that, but it’d be nice if she picked better projects than a buddy-cop movie with Sandra Bullock with jokes broader than a Mexican soap opera. I didn’t see Identity Thief, if only because it involved someone getting hit in the face with something in the trailer, which hasn’t boded well for comedy since The Three Stooges. No thanks. If I wanted to watch someone get hit in the face in a trailer, I’d hang out with your mom.

[Preliminary Numbers via ThompsonOnHollywood]

1. Identity Thief (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic rating: 35

$36,593,000 in 3,141 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $11,650; Cumulative: $36,593,000

2. Warm Bodies (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last Weekend: #1

$11,500,000 (-43%) in 3,009 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $3,822; Cumulative: $36,652,000

3. Side Effects (Open Road) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic rating: 74

$10,015,000 in 2,605 theaters; PSA: $3,845; Cumulative: $10,015,000

4. Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) Week 13; Last Weekend: #3

$6,908,000 (-11%) in 2,809 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,459; Cumulative: $90,002,000

5. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters(Paramount) Week 3; Last Weekend: #2

$5,750,000 (-39%) in 3.285 theaters (-90); PSA: $1,750; Cumulative: $43,833,000

6. Mama (Universal) Week 4; Last Weekend: #4

$4,300,000 (-34%) in 2,677 theaters (-104); PSA: $1,615; Cumulative: $64,000,000

7. Zero Dark Thirty (Sony) Week 8; Last Weekend: #5

$4,000,000 (-23%) in 2,562 theaters (-309); PSA: $1,561; Cumulative: $83,600,000

8. Argo (Warner Bros.) Week 18; Last Weekend: #11

$2,500,000 (+23%) in 1,405 theaters (+470); PSA: $1,779; Cumulative: $123,734,000

9. Django Unchained (Weinstein) Week 7; Last Weekend: #8

$2,288,000 (-24%) in 1,502 theaters (-275); PSA: $1,523; Cumulative: $154,501,000

10. Top Gun 3D (Paramount) NEW

$1,900,000 in 300 theaters; PSA: $6,333; Cumulative: $1,900,000