Identity Thief and Melissa McCarthy Score $11.2 Million Friday Opening

Identity Thief and Melissa McCarthy Score $11.2 Million Friday OpeningIdentity Thief and stars Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman proved laughter beats a snowy winter storm by opening big at the North American box office on Friday. The other less fortunate newcomer, Steven Sodenbergh’s final film Side Effects, got buried under the Identity Thief avalanche in a weak and forgettable debut.

Universal is grinning ear to ear today as Identity Thief trampled expectations in accumulating $11.2 million in ticket sales through its first 24 hours of release from 3,141 cinemas. This number is especially impressive considering theaters from New Jersey to Boston were either affected by or completely shut down by the winter storm that began on Friday and dumped from one to two or more feet of snow on the region. Had the storm not been around, it’s possible Identity Thief might have opened at $13 to $15 million.

Last weekend’s champ Warm Bodies starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer dropped in temperature for its second Friday with $3.3 million, a steep 60% decline. It has now earned $28.4 million to date and should finish the weekend between $8 and $10 million.

The premise of Side Effects didn’t connect with audiences as it opened to only $2.8 million on Friday. A sub-$10 million is all but assured, leaving Sodenbergh’s swan song coming up way short of the $8 million opening day his previous film Contagion opened to.

Silver Linings Playbook continues to hang around in top five with its Oscars campaign and publicity push in full swing. You can barely turn on a talk show these days without Bradley Cooper appearing. With $1.6 million on Friday, the critically acclaimed film did drop 35%, but continues to inch closer toward $100 million overall with $84.7 million in the bank.

Wrapping the top five was Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which continues to get a boost from 3D screens in making $1.4 million Friday. It now stands at $39.5 million overall and should top $50 million before heading off to Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD.

Stop back on Sunday when studio estimates for the weekend are available to learn if Identity Thief was able to reach $35 million through three days of release.

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