Box Office Report: 'The Heat' Bringing Down the 'White House' in Early Friday Returns
Melissa McCarthy can apparently do no wrong at the box office.
Based on early Friday ticket sales, Paul Feig's comedy The Heat -- starring McCarthy opposite Sandra Bullock -- could near $40 million in its debut, enough to easily beat Roland Emmerich's big-budget tentpole White House Down, headlined by another hot box-office star, Channing Tatum.
White House Down, also starring Jamie Foxx, may not cross $30 million in its North American opening, a blow for Emmerich and Sony, which spent $140 million to make the pic. In the film, the president of the United States (Foxx) and a wannabe Secret Service agent (Tatum) team up after the White House is invaded by terrorists and the U.S. Capitol destroyed.
One problem -- White House Down comes out just three months after FilmDistrict's White House-under-siege film Olympus Has Fallen played in theaters. Another is a glut of male-skewing action films in the market.
20th Century Fox's The Heat, meanwhile, marks another coup for McCarthy and Feig, as well as for Bullock. To date, McCarthy's top opening at the domestic box office is Identity Thief, which debuted earlier this year to $34.6 million.
The Heat -- the first female offering of the summer, costing a modest $43 million to produce -- stars Bullock as a strict FBI agent who is forced to team up with McCarthy's rough-around-the-edges Boston street cop.
Feig's Bridesmaids grossed $26.2 million in its domestic debut in May 2011. The film, which starred McCarthy along with Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, became a female-friendly comedy hit and has gone on to gross $288.4 million to date worldwide.
At current pacing, White House Down could become one of Emmerich's lowest-grossing debuts to date for a broad tentpole. In summer 2004, The Day After Tomorrow debuted to $68.7 million. Independence Day -- which also featured the destruction of the White House -- opened to $50.2 million in July 1996.
Monsters University is likely to stay at No. 1 in its second weekend with a gross in the $45 million-plus range. The Disney/Pixar film, the prequel to 2001 hit Monsters, Inc., debuted in 4,004 theaters last weekend to earn $82.4 million, making it Pixar's second-highest opening ever behind 2010's Toy Story 3. Holdover World War Z continues to show strength as well and could be neck-and-neck with The Heat.