April 20, 2014

Melissa McCarthy is officially a comedy mega-star

‘Identity Thief’ cements Melissa McCarthy’s stardom while Side Effects clarifies Channing Tatum’s box office drawing power.

Melissa McCarthy is officially a comedy mega-star. There can be little dispute of that after this weekend. Identity Thief topped the box office this weekend with an astonishing $36.5 million and I’m at a loss to think of any reasons it would do so well aside from Ms. McCarthy.

Jason Bateman is a terrific actor and a fine foil, but he’s box office poison as a lead (The Switch opened with $8.4 million, Extract opened to $4.3 million, and The Change-Up debuted with $13 million). The film’s simple and self-explanatory title, along with the clever expository tagline (“She’s having the time of his life.”) surely helped, as did the lack of any big comedies in the current marketplace. Parental Guidance and This Is Forty are both doing stealthy strong business, with $74 million and $67 million thus far respectively, but this is the first big star comic vehicle in awhile and it delivered in spades.

This was McCarthy’s first big test of her alleged stardom. Identity Thief was completely sold on McCarthy’s new-found stardom. The core imagery was basically her face on the poster, slipping a Slurpee next to a befuddled Jason Bateman. This is a much larger debut than Bridesmaids, the film which catapulted her to fame and proverbial glory back in May, 2011. This is among the ten-best R-rated comedy debuts ever and the fifth-best for a non-sequel. Heck, it opened bigger than the PG-13 Couples Retreat, which had a proverbial whos-who of comedy players (Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, and Kristen Bell) and managed a $34 million debut back in October 2009.

Fox has to be thrilled at the moment, knowing that they have a plausible gold-mine in the Melissa McCarthy/Sandra Bullock action-comedy The Heat waiting in the wings for June of this summer.

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About Scott Mendelson

Mendelson's Memos: The basics - 30 years old, married with one child, currently residing in Woodland Hills, CA. I am simply a longtime film critic and pundit of sorts, especially in the realm of box office. The main content will be film reviews, trailer reviews, essays, and box office analysis and comparison. I also syndicate myself at The Huffington Post and Open Salon. I will update as often as my schedule allows. Yes, I'm on Facebook/Twitter/LinkIn, so feel free to find me there. All comments are appreciated, just be civil and try to keep a level discourse, as I will make every effort to do the same. Read more at Mendelson's Memos:

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