Can Melissa McCarthy Show 'Batman v Superman' Who's 'The Boss'?

by Brad Brevet

April 7, 2016

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Melissa McCarthy's The Boss showed early signs of a solid weekend with $980,000 in Thursday night previews and that translated into a strong opening day, bringing in an estimated $8 million on Friday. As a result, Universal is projecting a neck-and-neck race for the #1 spot this weekend with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as both films are likely to finish with $21+ million with rival studios projecting The Boss will top Batman v Superman by as much as $2 million with a possible $23+ million three-day.

STX's Hardcore Henry is looking to fall below weekend projections as it could only muster an estimated $2 million on Friday, looking forward toward a likely $5.5 million weekend. Both Hardcore Henry and The Boss scored "C+" CinemaScores.

Finally, Fox Searchlight's Demolition is looking a little beaten up, bringing in only an $360,000 on Friday, heading toward an opening weekend around $1 million.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: The Boss is off to a promising start with $985,000 from Thursday night preview screenings in 2,533 theaters, with showings beginning at 7 PM. For comparison, Melissa McCarthy's Identity Thief began with $409,000 ($34.5 million opening), The Heat brought in $1 million ($39.1 million opening), Tammy brought in $1.3 million ($21.5 million opening) and Spy started off with $1.6 million ($29 million opening). Comparing to one of the films mentioned below in our weekend preview, 2014's The Other Woman brought in $550,000 from Thursday previews before going on to take in $9.2 million on Friday, leading to an opening weekend of $24.7 million.

STX's Hardcore Henry brought in $380,000 from Thursday night screenings, which is just a tick above the $375,000 The Transporter Refueled took in back in September before opening with a $7.3 million. Another good comparison would be to Paul Walker's April 2014 release Brick Mansions, which brought in $400,000 and ended up opening with $9.5 million. Both comparisons are right within the range Hardcore was expected to open with this weekend.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: Last weekend Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice saw a 69% second weekend drop in the face of no new competition from the major studios, yet it still retained the #1 position at the box office by a wide margin. This week the superhero slugfest may have a tougher fight on its hands as Melissa McCarthy enters the ring with her newest comedy The Boss. Meanwhile, STX is targeting the attention of gamers with the intense, first person actioner Hardcore Henry and Fox Searchlight has bumped up the release of Demolition from an estimated 550 theaters to over 850 theaters this weekend.

At the top, Batman v Superman is hoping to bounce back this weekend. In an attempt to determine what that may look like, the first number to consider is the average, 47.5% drop for film's in their third weekend that opened in over 3,700 theaters and scored a "B" CinemaScore. That said, things could also go the other direction, that being the way of Green Lantern and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, both of which also scored "B" CinemaScores and suffered second weekend drops over 65%. Both, however, showed different rates of decline in their third weekends, dropping 63.6% and 54.3% respectively.

That being said, while the response to Batman v Superman may be negative in a lot of areas, it's not on par with either Green Lantern or Silver Surfer, both of which were disliked by critics and audiences alike, more so than the response BvS has experienced. The flip side to that is neither of those films opened as large as Batman v Superman. In fact, BvS made more in its first two days than either of those two films made over the course of their entire domestic runs. This could suggest BvS has already exhausted a large portion of its possible audience with repeat viewing less likely, therefore implying another significant drop is in the offing.

How large? Well, a drop as steep as Lantern's seems unlikely. More probable is a drop closer to Silver Surfer's or even 2003's Hulk, which dropped 69.7% in its second weekend, followed by a 56.3% second weekend drop. This puts the film somewhere around $23 million this weekend and, if our next title over performs, it could mean a photo finish for #1.

Melissa McCarthy's last four wide releases in which she was the star all opened over $21.5 million, the smallest of which was 2014's Tammy ($21.5m) and the largest being 2013's The Heat ($39.1m). Last year she starred in Spy, which opened with $29 million in June, making the third film of the four that opened during the summer months. In 2013 she and Jason Bateman starred in the only non-summer release of the four, Identity Thief, which opened in February to the tune of $34.5 million proving she didn't need summer audiences to drive the box office, nor did she need a PG-13 rating. All four of those films were rated R, as is this weekend's new opener The Boss, which Universal is debuting in 3,482 theaters.

Universal is hoping for an opening around $20 million for the feature which is budgeted at a modest $29 million. Given McCarthy's recent success a $20 million opening might seem pessimistic, but given the film's marketing, it has the appearance of a title more likely to perform closer to Tammy's opening than her other features.

Comparisons beyond McCarthy's titles lead us to films such as The Other Woman and Date Night, which brought in $24.7 million and $25.2 million respectively. Both, however, were rated PG-13 and a little more general audience focused than The Boss appears to be. One R-rated comparison we can make is to 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which opened with $17.7 million and may be our best case for a baseline comparison.

One data point not working in the film's favor is the 18% rating on RottenTomatoes as of press time, a dramatic difference compared to the 94% rating for Spy. It's also the worst rating a McCarthy starrer has received on the review aggregation site, lower than the 19% for Identity Thief and Tammy's 23%. All told, an opening from $17.5-20 million seems your best bet.

Also going wide this weekend is the latest film from STX, the first-person actioner Hardcore Henry, which the studio acquired at last year's Toronto Film Festival for $10 million. Thanks to international deals the studio is looking at a financial exposure around $2 million on the title. The goal here is to duplicate the impressive multipliers they've seen with their previous films including The Gift and The Boy, both of which opened over $10 million and ended their domestic runs with a 3.69 and 3.23 multiplier respectively.

STX has clearly taken advantage of a strong marketing strategy with their previous releases and hope to do the same here. This time around they sought users at Twitch as well as integrating with video game developer Starbreeze and their game Payday2, which is actively used by more than 9 million gamers in which Hardcore Henry content was featured throughout the game in recent days.

With the studio targeting males aged 17-34, tracking services have the film opening in the $7-9 million range, which is pretty much the industry standard for expectation as comparisons are tough to come by. Fandango tells Mojo the film is among the online ticket seller's top five selling titles today and, outside of comparing to the studio's previous releases, the best comparison might be 2006's Crank, a highly-charged, energy-driven actioner that opened with $10.4 million back in September 2006. Otherwise, Fandango reports it's outselling last year's Hitman: Agent 47, which opened with $8.3 million at the same point in the sales cycle.

Given the buzz, the success of Hardcore Henry will rely wholly on the studio's ability to market the feature to this target audience. Looking at the reviews, they've grown increasingly negative over the course of the day. It currently sits at a 50% rating on RottenTomatoes, which isn't exactly alarming for a genre film of this sort, but it is just another item muddying the waters when trying to peg whether this film is more likely to open around $7 million or perhaps climb higher than $10 million.

Finally, Fox Searchlight will bring the Jake Gyllenhaal feature Demolition into 854 theaters. The studio is expecting an opening somewhere around $2.5-3 million and one recent comparison that can be made is to last year's opening of Brooklyn, another Fox Searchlight title. Brooklyn was released in 845 theaters and opened with $3.95 million. The caveat to this opening is Brooklyn was riding a wave of amazing reviews and heavy awards buzz, which ultimately resulted in three Oscar nominations. Demolition currently has a 46% rating on RottenTomatoes, which means the lack of critical buzz won't help its chances.

Elsewhere in the top ten, look for another strong weekend from Zootopia as it will continue its push to crossing $300 million domestically. Miracles from Heaven and God's Not Dead 2 could be in a tussle for sixth place as the two faith-based features compete for the same audience while My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 hopes for another solid holdover as it rounds out the top five.

You can check out this weekend's predictions below and stay tuned as we'll have updates tomorrow morning with Thursday night preview numbers and Saturday morning with Friday estimates.

  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (4,102 theaters) - $22.59 M
  • The Boss (3,482 theaters) - $19.85 M
  • Zootopia (3,444 theaters) - $14.49 M
  • Hardcore Henry (3,015 theaters) - $9.95 M
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (3,027 theaters) - $6.73 M
  • God's Not Dead 2 (2,379 theaters) - $4.57 M
  • Miracles from Heaven (2,777 theaters) - $4.5 M
  • The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2,503 theaters) - $3.05 M
  • Eye in the Sky (1,029 theaters) - $2.9 M
  • Demolition (854 theaters) - $2.56 M

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.

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