Melissa McCarthy Vs. 3 Top Male Movie Stars: Who Has Bigger Box Office Clout?

Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell and Jack Black can’t match the “Spy” star when it comes to generating movie grosses

Melissa McCarthy in Spy, Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, The Heat, Tammy
Fox/Universal/Warner Bros.

Melissa McCarthy, whose movie comedy “Spy” opens Friday, is not only able to run with some of the top male comics at the box office, she can beat them — and she’s a bargain.

That’s the takeaway from a very unscientific survey conducted with the help of Box Office Mojo. We took the last four films in which McCarthy was the principal player and compared those to the most recent four of Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell and Jack Black.

We focused on films in which they were the stars, though for each we included a buddy tale like “Ride Along” for Hart, or an ensemble outing like McCarthy’s “Bridesmaids,” as well.

We didn’t count voicing animated films like Black’s “Kung Fu Panda” or ultra-low-budget outings like Ferrell’s “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.”

Melissa McCarthy The Heat

Here are some facts we found interesting:

  • With “Bridesmaids,” which like “The Heat” and “Spy” is directed by Paul Feig, McCarthy has the highest-grossing release of any of the four at $288 million worldwide for Universal.
  • McCarthy’s movies were third-lowest in terms of cost. Her last four cost an average of $33 million, while Hart’s ran an average of $25 million. Ferrell’s were the most expensive at $71 million per.
  • McCarthy’s $184 million average gross per film was the best, just ahead of Ferrell’s $174 million. Given the budget differential, that’s a bargain.

So what’s the key to her appeal?

“There’s an authenticity to her that very few actors, comedic or dramatic, can approach. The average person can relate to that and it’s very powerful,” said Rentrak senior analyst Paul Dergarabedian.“She checks her vanity at the door, and inhabits her characters without pretense or worry about how she looks or comes off, and audiences love that.”