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A potentially historic blizzard on the U.S. East Coast is rendering usual prediction models useless, but so far the Melissa McCarthy–Jason Bateman comedy Identity Thief is off to a stellar start at the Friday box office.
Directed by Seth Gordon, the Universal pic is looking to gross $10 million or more on Friday for a possible $30 million-plus weekend. The film marks McCarthy’s first starring role since the breakout comedy hit Bridesmaids (likewise a Universal title), which opened to roughly $26 million in 2011.
Winter Storm Nemo in the Northeast is sure to impact grosses, particularly if New York City gets hit hard. Already, theaters in the Boston area are closing because of the storm. Generally speaking, New York City alone makes up 8 percent of box-office grosses, while Boston accounts for 2 percent.
Identity Thief stars Bateman as a guy whose identity is stolen by a woman (McCarthy). Bateman originally pitched producer Scott Stuber on the idea of the two leading characters being men, but after seeing McCarthy in Bridesmaids, they adapted the role for her.
The comedy’s supporting cast includes Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau and Tip “T.I.” Harris. Elliot Inc. co-financed the $35 million film with Universal.
Overseas, Universal will open Identity Thief in Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Taiwan this weekend.
Steven Soderbergh‘s independently financed Side Effects, starring Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum, also is debuting in North America this weekend. Based on early Friday returns, the psychological thriller is expected to open in the $10 million-$12 million range.
Open Road Films is distributing Side Effects, which delves into perils of anti-depressants and the pharmaceutical industry. Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones also star. Next week, the film — which Soderbergh claims will be his last — makes its international debut at the Berlin International Film Festival.
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