Box Office Report: 'Identity Thief' No. 1 With $36.6 Million

The R-rated comedy exceeds expectations despite Winter Storm Nemo in the Northeast; Steven Soderbergh's "Side Effects" Opens No. 3 With $9.4 million, while "Argo" makes a comeback in its 18th week of release.

Melissa McCarthy's new comedy Identity Thief, co-starring Jason Bateman and directed by Seth Gordon, soared past expectations to score a $36.6 million debut, one of the top five openings of all time for an original R-rated comedy and the top opening so far of 2013, besting the $28 million scored four weeks ago by fellow Universal pic Mama.

Universal estimates that the blizzard, which paralyzed much of New England, took a 10 percent hit on box office grosses and that without Nemo, Identity Thief would have cleared $40 million. The pic marks McCarthy's first starring role since Bridesmaids -- which opened to $26 million -- and was fueled by females, who made up 58 percent of the audience. 

Receiving a B CinemaScore, Identity Thief stars Bateman as a guy whose identity is stolen by a woman (McCarthy). Bateman originally pitched producer Scott Stuber on the idea of the two leading characters being men, but after seeing McCarthy in Bridesmaids, they adapted the role for her.

The comedy's supporting cast includes Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau and Tip "T.I." Harris. Elliot Inc. co-financed the $35 million film with Universal.

Even with the success of Identity Thief, overall box office revenues were down 45 percent from the same weekend last year when The Vow debuted to $41.2 million and Safe House, to $40.2 million.

Also opening Friday was Steven Soderbergh's independently financed Side Effects, starring Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum. The psychological thriller opened to $10 million, roughly in line with expectations, and likewise received a B CinemaScore.

Open Road Films is distributing Side Effects, which delves into the perils of anti-depressants and the pharmaceutical industry. Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones also star. Next week, the film -- which Soderbergh claims will be his last -- makes its international debut at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Side Effects came in No. 3 after Identity Thief and Warm Bodies, which fell a relatively narrow 44 percent in its second weekend, grossing $11.5 million for a domestic cume of $36.7 million.

Silver Linings Playbook continued to enjoy an impressive hold, coming in No. 4 and falling only 11 percent from the previous weekend. The Oscar best picture contender, from The Weinstein Co., has now earned $90 million.

Among other best picture nominees, Argo made news in its 18th week in release, grossing $2.5 million to reclaim a spot on the top 10 chart as it upped its theater count to $1,405. The film, coming in at No. 8, has now grossed $123.7 million domestically (for an update on other nominees, see below).

Debuting in 300 IMAX locations across the country was Paramount's Top Gun 3D. The classic Tom Cruise pic, directed by the late Tony Scott, grossed a respectable $1.9 million for a location average of $6,333.

Chinese blockbuster Lost in Thailand didn't pack much of a punch in its U.S. debut, grossing a paltry $29,143 from 29 AMC theaters across the country (AMC Entertainment is now owned by Chinese conglomerate Wanda). Lost in Thailand has grossed nearly $200 million in China.

Here are the full results for the weekend of Feb. 8-10 at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in release/theater count, studio, three-day weekend total, cume (*denotes Oscar best picture nominee)

1. Identity Thief, 1/3,141, Universal, $36.3 million
2. Warm Bodies, 2/3,009, Summit, $11.5 million, $36.7 million
3. Side Effects, 1/2,605, Open Road, $10 million
4. *Silver Linings Playbook, 13/2,809, The Weinstein Co., $6.9 million, $90 million
5. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, 3/3,285, Paramount/MGM, $5.6 million, $43. million
6. Mama, 4/2,677, Universal, $4.3 million, $64 million
7. *Zero Dark Thirty, 8/2,562, Sony/Annapurna, $4 million, $83.6 million
8. Argo, 13/1,405, Warner Bros., $2.5 million, $123.7 million
9. *Django Unchained, 7/1,502, The Weinstein Co., $2.3 million, $154.5 million
10. *Lincoln, 13/1,512, Disney/DreamWorks, $1.9 million, $173.6 million


Peter Oberth
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