This weekend, Universal’s Identity Thief blew onto the scene with a surprisingly strong opening, while Steven Soderbergh’s supposed last directorial effort debuted mildly in third. Returning films held on reasonably well, especially those of the Oscar variety.
Exploding into first place was Identity Thief, starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, with an estimated $36.6M from 3,141 theaters, for a potent per-screen average of $11,650. Despite the controversial review of formerly influential critic Rex Reed, audiences dug the film, which outgunned the opening weekends of Bateman’s Horrible Bosses ($28.3M) and McCarthy’s Bridesmaids ($26.2), both from the summer of 2011. Instead Identity Thief opened in line with last year’s spring hit 21 Jump Street which debuted with $36.3M on its way to $138.7M. If last year was the year of Tatum, could this year be the year of McCarthy, who has The Heat co-starring Sandra Bullock on tap for later this summer.
Second place belonged to the warm and fuzzy zombies of Warm Bodies. Dipping a reasonable 43% from its debut weekend, the Summit release ate up an estimated $11.5M bringing its cume to $35.5M.
Third place belonged to Side Effects directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh, who claims this will be his last film. The thriller, which stars last year’s “It Boy” Tatum, couldn’t live up to the pair’s last collaboration Magic Mike ($39.1M from last summer) and opened mildly with $10M, according to estimates, from 2,605 theaters for a per-screen average of only $3,845. I have a hard time imagining Soderbergh will be happy to go out on a note like this, so I’m betting he’ll be back in the next couple of years.
The rest of the top 10 had a familiar look to it as Oscar films continued their push to Super Sunday on the 24th of this month. Leading the pack in its 13th weekend was Silver Linings Playbook, which fell a slim 11% to $6.9M this weekend, according to estimates, bringing its total to $89M. Fifth place belonged to the fairy tale darlings Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters which dropped 39% from last weekend to an estimated $5.8M, bringing its cume to $43M.
Sixth place belonged to the horror-thriller Mama which slipped 34% to an estimated $4.3M and a current total of $63.7M, impressive for a horror film. Jennifer Lawrence’s biggest rival for the Best Actress Oscar landed in seventh place as Jessica Chastain and Zero Dark Thirty slid 23% from last weekend to $4M, according to estimates, bringing the war thriller to $83M.
On an amazing award winning streak, Ben Affleck’s Argo added 470 theaters this weekend and jumped back into the top 10 in its 18th weekend, adding an additional $2.5M, according to estimates, bringing its total to $123.2M. Fellow Best Picture nominee Django Unchained took in an estimated $2.3M this weekend, bringing Quentin Tarantino’s highest grossing film to $154.2M. And rounding out the top 10 was the Sylvester Stallone flop Bullet to the Head which dropped 56% from its dull opening to an estimated $2M, bringing its miserable total to $7.9M. One other film of note, the 3D IMAX re-release of Tom Cruise’s classic Top Gun debuted just outside the top 10 with $1.9M from 300 screens for a per screen average of $6,333, second best in the top 20.
The top ten films grossed $85.8M which was down 49% from last year when The Vow and Safe House both debuted north of $40M; and down 33% from 2011 when the triumvirate of Just Go With It, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and Gnomeo & Juliet all opened between $25M and $30M.