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Melissa McCarthy’s ‘The Boss’ Starts Strong With $985,000 at Thursday Box Office

New comedy falls short of beating Tuesday debut of ”Tammy“ in 2014 but tops the preview gross of 2013’s ”Identity Thief“

Melissa McCarthy‘s “The Boss” got right to work, with a promising $985,000 at Thursday preview shows in 2,533 theaters.

By comparison, her 2014 comedy “Tammy” debuted to $1.3 million when it opened on a Tuesday night. Her hit “Identity Thief” earned $409,000 on its first night in 2013. And “The Heat” saw a similar number to that of “The Boss” when it debuted in 2013, making $1 million in previews en route to a $39 million opening weekend.

In “The Boss,” McCarthy plays a disgraced industry titan who tries to redeem her reputation by building a brownie empire. According to analysts, the comedy is looking to open in the low-$20 million range. That’s on par with the actress’ recent box office hits, including last year’s “Spy,” which opened to $29 million, and “Tammy” which debuted to $21.6 million.

Starring Peter Dinklage, Kristen Bell, Kristen Schaal and Kathy Bates, the film is being skewered by critics, whose reviews amount to a bad 19 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Boss,” which was produced on a $29 million budget, is posing a threat to “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” this weekend. The Henry Cavill-Ben Affleck superhero saga is expected to drop by half after suffering a massive second-week decline of 69.1 percent. Heading into this frame, the film is expected to earn less than half of the $51.3 million that it banked last weekend.

On Thursday, both “The Boss” and “Batman v Superman” were running neck-and-neck in Fandango’s advanced ticket sales — the Fanticipation buzz indicator gave the former 80 points out of 100 and the latter 81 out of 100.

Meanwhile, STX Entertainment’s “Hardcore Henry” earned $380,000 in Thursday previews. It is opening on 3,000 screens this weekend.

The movie, shot entirely with a GoPro, has been tracking to earn $7 million to $9 million in its first three days, although projections for the action film are difficult to make because it essentially establishes a new genre. STX acquired the film at the Toronto Film Festival.

Critics are split on “Hardcore Henry.” It now has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 50 percent, although it was up to 70 percent in the days leading up to its previews.