Here's your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Identity Thief - $36.5 million
2. Warm Bodies - $11.5 million
3. Side Effects - $10.0 million
4. Silver Linings Playbook - $6.9 million
5. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters - $5.7 million
6. Mama - $4.3 million
7. Zero Dark Thirty - $4.0 million
8. Argo - $2.5 million
9 . Django Unchained - $2.2 million
10. Bullet to the Head - $1.9 million
The Big Stories
If you were Steven Soderbergh looking at the box office numbers this week, you would likely want to retire, too. Sure, the eastern parts of the U.S. got about 17 feet of snow from Nemo and we can look to put the blame on that. But it only further advances that the same people stupid enough to get stuck on the Long Island Expressway overnight are the same people who would likely venture out to try and see Identity Thief after 75% of the nation's critics called it awful or worse. If nothing else, the big numbers it put up should be enough to make Rex Reed squirm. That alone is enough of a silver lining, but it doesn't excuse the pure awfulness.
Identity Stole a Lot of Your Money
It may not have set any kind of juicy February record to write about (its opening was 13th overall and sixth amongst R-rated films) but Identity Thief's $36.5 million start is still pretty impressive. After an up-and-down year that saw great successes (Ted, The Lorax, Les Miserables, Pitch Perfect) mixed with underperformers in relation to budget (Snow White & The Huntsman, The Bourne Legacy, Wanderlust) and the second biggest bomb of 2012 (Battleship), Universal can smile as it will have the two biggest grossers on the young 2013 (along with Mama) by this Friday.
Jason Bateman's status as a face on the poster has been bigger when paired with an ensemble such as Horrible Bosses ($117.5 million) and Couples Retreat ($109.2) and less so when more front and center such as The Switch ($27.7) and Extract ($10.8). A pairing with Ryan Reynolds in The Change-Up ($37.0) did not exactly light up interest but this may be a sign of Melissa McCarthy's star on the rise.
Ever since Bridesmaids and her subsequent Oscar nomination, McCarthy has really been killing it in public appearances and this is her first major film role since. Her forthcoming pairing with Sandra Bullock (The Heat), reuniting her with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, was recently pushed from April into June to face off against Kick-Ass 2 and the second Oval Office-under-attack film of 2013 (White House Down). Place your bets now against the ladies winning this weekend. It has to be better than Identity Thief, right? Please make it true, Sookie. No, not the one from True Blood.
Speaking of Bloodsuckers
The pharmaceutical industry got their licks from Mr. Soderbergh this weekend in the excellent Side Effects, which is being billed as perhaps the director's swan song from movie theaters. (He still has the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon coming to HBO in May.) It is hard to duplicate the success of last summer's Magic Mike when Channing Tatum is only a fourth-billed "AND" credit. Hopefully guys can convince their ladies to check it out on Valentine's Day instead of the latest Nicholas Sparks film. Trust me, it's a great relationship movie with Sparks-ian overtones sans the sucking. While a career as prolific as Soderbergh's should never be measured in mere dollars and cents, let us take a look back at his greatest financial successes and see what we could have done to entice him to make a few more movies for us.
Ocean's Eleven ($183.4 million), Erin Brockovich ($125.59), Ocean's Twelve ($125.54), Traffic ($124.1), Ocean's Thirteen ($117.1), Magic Mike ($113.7), Contagion ($75.6), Out of Sight ($35.7), The Informant! ($33.3), sex lies and videotape ($24.7), Haywire ($18.9), Solaris ($14.9)
Side Effects will make that list too, likely somewhere between Informant and sex but below what Identity Thief grossed in just three days. Maybe even two. This is why we can't have nice things, people.
Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]