Identity Thief scores biggest opening of 2013 so far

Identity Thief had the most successful opening weekend of any adult-targeted comedy since last year’s Ted.

Comedian Melissa McCarthy proved her star power this weekend with Identity Thief debuting to $36.6 million in the US, the strongest opening of any movie so far in 2013. McCarthy, who stars alongside Jason Bateman, has not been seen in a major role since Bridesmaids (which opened to $26.2 million) in 2011. Identity Thief pits McCarthy as a scammer against Bateman, the man whose identity she adopts. Though the boisterous flick did not earn much love from critics, it appears that audiences were starved for an adult-targeted comedy, with the last one that opened over $20 million being Ted seven months ago. Identity Thief opens March 22 in the UK.

In second place in the US, zombie rom-com Warm Bodies dropped an expected 44% from its opening weekend, earning $11.5 million. Through 10 days, the genre mash-up starring Nicholas Hoult has grossed $36.7 million, and could see a small spike on Valentine’s Day this week.

The film that Steven Soderbergh claims will be his last, psychological thriller Side Effects, opened to a weak $10 million in third place on the domestic charts. The star-studded cast featuring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones was de-emphasised over the film’s moody and mysterious tone. Though the advertising suggests a story dealing with anti-depressants, pharmaceutical culture and its evidently sinister consequences, the murky plotline may be to blame for its lackluster returns. Side Effects opens in UK cinemas March 8.

Silver Linings Playbook continued its winning streak, earning $6.9 million at fourth place in its thirteenth week of release, and seems poised to surpass $100 million by the day of the Oscar ceremony on Feb. 24th, where the feel-good dramedy will vie for best picture. Action comedy Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters earned $5.8 million, ranking fifth in its third weekend. While returns have been mediocre in the states, the fairytale spinoff might be able to make it up overseas, where it currently ranks third with $11.6 million.

Jessica Chastain’s simultaneous hits took the next two spots, with horror film Mama earning $4.3 million in sixth place, and Oscar best picture contender Zero Dark Thirty earning $4 million in seventh.

Ben Affleck’s Argo experienced a mini resurgence, ranking eighth in the US with $2.5 million. After Affleck was shunned by the American Academy who denied him a best director Oscar nomination, Argo picked up the Golden Globe for best director and best drama, the SAG award for best ensemble cast, and recently earned BAFTA awards for best director and best film, making it a late front-runner for best picture at the Oscars.

Django Unchained, itself adorned with five Oscar nominations, ranked ninth on the US charts with $2.3 million and first on the international charts for the fourth week in a row with $18.7 million. Sylvester Stallone-starring Bullet to the Head rounded out the US top ten, earning $2 million in its second week.

Filling in the international top five, Wreck-It Ralph ranked second with $11.7 million, A Good Day to Die Hard ranked fourth with $10.1 million in a strong limited release, and Les Miserables ranked fifth with $10.1 million, finally sliding to second place in the UK after four weeks at number one.

This week’s US openings include fantasy romance Beautiful Creatures, A Good Day to Die Hard, and Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation Safe Haven on Valentine’s Day, as well as animated film Escape From Planet Earth on Friday. In the UK, Beautiful Creatures, A Good Day to Die Hard, and This Is 40 will open in time for Valentine’s Day, while Sammy’s Great Escape opens Friday.