Melissa McCarthy Rules Weekend Box Office Top Ten

Melissa McCarthy Rules Weekend Box Office Top Ten

This weekend's modestly budgeted performers yielded a weak total. The top ten grossed around $87 million, about 20% down from last year (continuing the trend for 2013 so far) and closer to 30% off from last weekend.

On a Sunday when studio films look to take home most of the top Oscars (not always the case), their new pictures aren't playing well with audiences. Only three studio pics make the top ten, while mini-majors and independents carry most of the weight. The continued success of such companies as Weinstein, Lionsgate, Relativity and Open Road is healthy for the overall industry, but the lack of top-draw breakout hits from the studios is significant, even iduring their first quarter off-season. This drives grosses lower, with exhibitors continuing to bear the brunt of the pain.

1. Identity Thief (Universal) Week 3 – Last Weekend: #2

$14,100,000 (-41%) in 3,222 theaters (+57); PSA (per screen average):; Cumulative: $93,700,000

Returning to #1 in its third week — a rare accomplishment, and a position that earlier Melissa McCarthy-starring "Bridesmaids" didn't achieve during its great run — this is a strong showing for the film, if not a stellar gross to lead the top ten.

"Bridesmaids" achieved its $169 million gross by keeping its early week drops to around 20% as much better word of mouth carried it to months of success. It also opened in May, against early summer behemoths, then outlasted them by a wide margin.

"Identity Thief" at this point looks like it could come much closer to the "Bridesmaids" total than anyone expected ($150 million isn't impossible), particularly if upcoming new releases continue to underperform like most others this year.

What comes next: This could be Jennifer Lawrence's night, but Melissa McCarthy is now a major female comedy star in the right property.

2. Snitch (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic score: 53

$13,000,000 in 2,511 theaters; PSA: $5,177; Cumulative: $13,000,000

Performing as expected, this $5 millon Lionsgate acquisition (before marketing costs) continues the distributor's strong 2013 (this is their sixth wide release). This father-saves-son action drama is performing closer to the level of The Rock's earlier "Walking Tall" than his franchise successes ("Journey 2" and "Faster") or comedies ("The Other Guys"), but its lower budget makes it a decent performance.

The film was made by Exclusive Entertainment, which has found distribution partners elsewhere ("End of Watch"/Open Road, "The Woman in Black"/CBS FIlms), showing that working outside the studio system can work for independents making mid-level budget films with proven stars. For director Ric Roman Waugh, a stuntman from his late teens, this is a big step up from his earlier-directed film "Felon."

What comes next: Unless word of mouth kicks in, this recouper will fall quickly.

3. Escape from Planet Earth (Weinstein) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #4

$11,013,000 (-31%) in 3,353 theaters (+65); PSA: $3,285; Cumulative: $35,144,000

Continued decent gross for this overperforming animated film for the year-round audience looking for something to see. Timing can be everything for box office success, and this fed the hungry family crowd.

What comes next: With all the concentration of Weinstein's Oscar presence, this comes as a nice alternative success for them irrespective of what happens at the Dolby on Sunday.

4. Safe Haven (Relativity) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #3

$10,600,000 (-50%) in 3,223 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $3,289; Cumulative: $48,062,000

This latest Nicholas Sparks' adaptation, aided by its strong Valentine's Day opening, already is close to $50 million in only 11 days. Though it took a big second weekend drop, the $28 million production, already presold to most of the rest of world, looks like a significant success for Relativity.

What comes next: This should head to around $75 million.

5. A Good Day to Die Hard (20th Century-Fox) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #1

$10,000,000 (-) in 3,555 theaters (+2); PSA: $2,813; Cumulative: $51,802,000

This is an embarrassing fall around 60% for this now officially underperforming older-action starrer sequel, from #1 to #5 in a weak period. Only in its second week, this is running out of steam quickly. Combined with just OK foreign grosses, this looks like is could struggle to reach $250 million worldwide – way below hopes for a film that cost Fox $90 million+ before getting into marketing expenses.

This film was the first "tentpole" multiple-quadrant film to be released this year. Its mediocre performance is another sign of problems for studios and theaters alike post-holidays.

What comes next: Suggestion of more sequels last week looks premature, at least at this expense to make.

6. Dark Skies (Weinstein) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic score: 48 

$8,850,000 in 2,313 theaters; PSA: $3,826; Cumulative: $8,850,000

After a seriies of low budget horror openings that easily surpassed $10 million so far this year, this will fall short. But with a $3.5 million budget for its producer (Jason Blum, whose credits include the "Paranormal" series, "Sinister" and "The Bay," as well as a hand in "The Reader") and a deal with Weinstein that has them putting up marketing, this gross for those parties isn't a disaster, even if lower than hoped.

For all of the late-year Oscar-fueled success Weinstein has had, the one crucial element the company has lacked in recent years has been the strong backup (and often best grosses for the company) of Dimension division films. Most of these have been in-house rather than side deals like this (a sci-fi horror story about a mother shielding her kids from aliens).

Director Scott Stewart broke into the horror genre with "Legion" and "Priest," both from Sony's Screen Gems unit, both opening close to double or better. The latter however had a $60 million budget and capped at under $30 million in the U.S. A breakeven low-cost effort like this is preferable for all involved.

For lead actress Keri Russell, quiet mainly since her breakout indie success "Waitress," this is a brief interlude before her recent Sundance success "Austenland" hits theaters later this year.

What comes next: Not much more than a second week looks in store for this.

7. Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) Week 15 – Last Weekend: #8

$6,051,000 (-3%) in 2,012 theaters (-190); PSA: $3,007; Cumulative: $107,476,000

Way ahead at this point of the other Oscar contenders still in release, with its PSA up a bit with some minor theater loss, no film has ridden the nomination curve better (at least in terms of gross — the marketing expense of this release plan spread over so many weeks with diminishing film rental made it less lucrative).

What comes next: Even without major Oscar wins tonight this has some life left, but a quite possible Best Actress win and maybe more could keep this in theaters for weeks more.

8. Warm Bodies (Lionsgate) Week 4 – Last Weekend: #5

$4,750,000 (-46%) in 2,644 theaters (-253); PSA: $1,797; Cumulative: $58,168,053

This teenage/female appeal vampire romcom continues to perform well as one of the pleasant surprises of early 2013. Though hardly "Twilight," it again reinforces Lionsgates reputation for finding success in another variation in the horror genre field.

What comes next: This could make it to $75 million domestic, with then the rest of world making this $30 million budget film from Lionsgates' Summit division a solid investment.

9. Side Effects (Open Road) Week 3 – Last Weekend: #7

$3,511,000 (-41%) in 2,070 theaters (-535); PSA: $1,696; Cumulative: $25,254,000

Holding up a bit better than some recent releases, this now looks like it will end up a bit ahead of what its sub-$10 million weekend suggested.

What comes next: From director Steven Soderbergh at least, nothing imminent, and perhaps not for a long time if ever as his hiatus (and possible retirement) commences.

10. Beautiful Creatures (Warner Bros.) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #6

$3,410,000 (-55%) in 2,950 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,156; Cumulative: $16,372,000

At least it didn't drop the most of any of last week's openings.

What comes next: Two and out for many of its theaters for this latest flop from Warners.

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