5 Reasons Why ‘Entourage’ Got Trounced by Melissa McCarthy’s ‘Spy’ at Box Office

The posse didn’t come close to the spy spoof or the success of “Sex and the City”

Anyone expecting a battle between “Entourage,” the big-screen version of the HBO TV series, and Melissa McCarthy‘s comedy “Spy” had to be sorely disappointed by their showdown at the box office this weekend.

Fox’s “Spy” took in $30 million and knocked Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s “San Andreas” out of the top spot. “Entourage” earned $17.8 million for Warner Bros. and finished in fourth place behind “Spy,” the earthquake epic and Jason Blum‘s debuting horror sequel “Insidious: Chapter 3.”

They were both R-rated and in a comparable number of theaters, though “Entourage” opened two days earlier than “Spy” on Wednesday. So why the disparity in their box-office debuts?

TheWrap looks at five possible reasons “Entourage” got stuck behind the velvet rope.

Base audience
Both “Sex and the City” and “Entourage” were hits on HBO, but the numbers for each show’s final episode are telling. While “Sex and the City” drew more than 10 million total viewers, the “Entourage” series finale delivered 3.1 million. Carrie Bradshaw and her pals were also big hits in syndication, which is where most of the country got to know them. “Entourage” didn’t connect with mainstream viewers and its run on Spike TV ended quickly because of lackluster ratings.

Critical Reception
While “Spy” was a hit with critics and is at a sterling 95 percent positive on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, “Entourage” wasn’t. The Mark Wahlberg-produced comedy is at a weak 30 percent positive. For what it’s worth, the spy spoof got a “B+” CinemaScore from audiences, while “Entourage” received an “A-.”

Starpower Outage
“Entourage” had a passionate following from its days on HBO TV and Jeremy Piven‘s turn as super agent Ari Gold and Adrian Grenier‘s portrayal of handsome lead actor Vincent Chase has a lot to do with it. But no one in the ensemble cast has the crowd-luring clout of Melissa McCarthy, who has a very broad appeal thanks to her success in films like “The Heat” and “Bridesmaids” and “Mike and Molly,” her CBS TV show. Even her co-stars Jason Statham and Jude Law were more well-known than most of the guys in “Entourage.”

The Feig Factor
That leads us to “Spy” director Paul Feig, who teamed with McCarthy on those two global hits and will again on Sony’s all-female “Ghostbusters.” It’s not a knock on “Entourage” director Doug Ellin, who also wrote the screenplay and obviously knows humor himself, but Feig is more well-known. “No one has a better handle on R-rated humor and how to deliver it than Paul Feig,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s head of distribution, and it’s hard to argue.

The Battle Plan
With its $27 million budget and cost-saving corporate synergies that come with HBO and Warner Bros. being corporate siblings at Time Warner, “Entourage” was never envisioned as a broad hit. The rowdy and often racy take on life in Hollywood’s fast lane endeared it to guys on both coasts, but viewers in the Heartland and in the South never bothered tuning in. That meant a more targeted, niche-approach to the marketing, and a strategy that called for combining a reasonable theatrical rollout with a strong performance on DVD and pay TV to realize a small profit in time. “Spy” was made for $65 million and Fox will be disappointed if it doesn’t take in more than $200 million globally.