Reviews have been brutal so far for Melissa McCarthy's latest starring vehicle The Boss, a film that critics have described as “sloppy,” “sterile,” “slovenly” and all kinds of other not-so-flattering “s”-words. Its current Rotten Tomatoes score? A dismal 10%.
And yet box-office pundits are predicting a debut somewhere in the low $20-million range this weekend — a total that would put The Boss on track with McCarthy's critically-lambasted 2014 comedy Tammy, which managed an $84 million gross Stateside and another $16 million worldwide off a $20 million budget. While The Boss cost a bit more than that film at $29 million, a $20 million opening weekend would put it well on the road to profitability — particularly if it can demonstrate the same kind of legs as Tammy, which eased a good 41% in both its second and third weekends.
It's been a pretty remarkable run for McCarthy since that scene-stealing turn in Bridesmaids launched her onto the A-list. Though critics roasted two of her four subsequent starring vehicles (Identity Thief and Tammy), those films have collectively grossed more than $730 million worldwide ($790 million if you count Bill Murray-starrer St. Vincent, which wasn't really “her” movie), and The Boss, despite the critical beating it's taken, seems primed to notch her another hit.
Like her more prolific comedic contemporary Kevin Hart, McCarthy has thus far proven to be box-office Teflon, with a base of fans who don't seem to care what the critics say. It doesn't hurt that for every “bad” film she puts out, McCarthy follows it up with a “good” one; if you look at the pattern, Identity Thief (19% RT score) was followed by The Heat (65%) was followed by Tammy (23%) was followed by Spy (94%) was followed by The Boss (10% so far). Were she to put out two “bad” movies in a row, I'd be interested to see whether her fans began to turn on her or whether, like Hart, the relative quality of her filmography would become a secondary consideration.
As it stands, McCarthy remains a rare phenomenon: a movie star with not a single flop on her resume. While The Boss looks primed to continue that trend, anything less than a $20 million weekend could be construed as a disappointment. We'll see whether these truly awful early reviews make a bigger dent than expected in that first-weekend total.