‘Identity Thief’ Blasts Through Blizzard, Eyes $35M Weekend Box Office

Melissa McCarthy-Jason Bateman comedy takes in $11.2M Friday despite theater closures on East Coast forced by storm

“Identity Theft” snow-plowed through an East Coast blizzard Friday and took in $11.2 million at the box office in its first day of release. That puts the Universal comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman on track for an eye-popping $35 million weekend.

Hitting that number would be impressive, as prerelease projections by analysts had the film coming in with $25 million for the three days. Friday's bad weather forced the AMC and Regal theater chains to close locations in several New England states and surely kept some potential moviegoers home.

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Theaters in the greater New York area stayed open, however, and that helped. But the weekend is still running nearly 50 percent behind the comparable week last year, when "The Vow" and "Safe House" opened to $41 million and $40 million respectively.

"Identity Thief" is McCarthy's first starring role since the breakout comedy hit "Bridesmaids," which debuted to $26 million in 2011 for Universal. It is the first film at the studio for director Seth Gordon and is on track to be his best opening yet, topping the $28 million his 2011 comedy "Horrible Bosses" debuted with for Warner Bros. That film went on to make $117 million domestically.

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“Side Effects,” the weekend's other wide opener, was running third after a $2.8 million Friday. That projects to an $8.6 million weekend for director Steven Soderbergh's pharmaceutical thriller from Open Road Entertainment, which stars Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum.

It was running behind last week's No. 1 film, “Warm Bodies,” which is looking at a $10 million second week after bringing in $3.3 million for Summit Entertainment. Its domestic total stands at $35.1 million.

Both new movies received “B” CinemaScores from first-night audiences.

Best Picture Oscar nominee “Silver Linings Playbook” is still in 2,809 theaters and was running fourth after taking in $1.6 million Friday. That's a roughly 40 percent drop from last week but still projects to a solid $6.3 million weekend for the Weinstein Comedy's dark comedy, which now has a domestic total of $84.6 million.

Paramount's 3D action fantasy “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” added $1.3 million and is looking at a $5.1 million third week and now has a $38.2 million domestic total. “Mama,” Universal's Guillermo del Toro-produced horror thriller, followed with $1.2 million Friday, which projects to $3.9 million for the three days. Its domestic total is $59.7 million after four weeks.

Three Best Picture Oscar nominees followed.

Sony's “Zero Dark Thirty” should finish the three days with around $3.5 million after adding $975,000 Friday from 2,562 locations. Its domestic total is now $80.5 million.

“Argo” has broken back into the top ten. It brought in $565,000 Friday after Warner Bros. added 470 theaters to bring the screen count to 1,405, which means it's looking at a $2.3 million weekend. Its overall domestic haul is $121.7 million.

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The Weinstein Company's “Django Unchained” brought in $557,000 Friday after dropping another 275 theaters to 1,502 locations. It's on pace for a weekend of about $2.1 million and its domestic total stands at $152.7 million.

Paramount's 3D re-release of its 1986 hit "Top Gun" was holding the tenth spot, after taking in $534,000 from 300 Imax theaters Friday. That works out to a $1.2 million weekend.