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Box office report: 'Identity Thief' wins the weekend, beats expectations and 'Bridesmaids'

Identity Thief (CinemaScore: B) fared even better than expected, bringing in $36.6 million over the weekend across 3,141 theaters. For comparison, Melissa McCarthy’s last major film Bridesmaids (though it was in a supporting role) opened at $26.2 million, in 2,918 theaters. With an opening like this, big things are surely expected from Seth Gordon’s R-rated comedy which has already surpassed its $35 million production budget. Though Bateman and Gordon had a successful run with Horrible Bosses after a $28.3 million opening weekend in July 2011, Bateman hasn’t had this kind of luck with most of his starring roles. Universal’s The Change-Up (with Ryan Reynolds) opened at $13.5 million in August 2011 and went on to gross only $37.1 million domestically, on a $52 million production budget. 

Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies took second place for its second weekend with $11.5 million, bringing its domestic total to $36.7 million. This breaks Levine’s record, beating the lifetime domestic gross of his last feature, the cancer dramedy 50/50 with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which brought in $35 million.

The R-rated Hitchcock-style, prescription-drug thriller Side Effects (CinemaScore: B) ended up beating director Steven Soderbergh’s January 2012 weekend opening of Haywire, earning $10 million weekend this weekend and averaging $3,845 per theater. We talked a little bit about stars Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum’s box office history yesterday. Another star of Side Effects is Jude Law, and he’s got a varied track record at the box office. He generally participates in ensemble casts – Anna Karenina, the Sherlock Holmes franchise, Soderbergh’s Contagion, The Holiday – making his singular box office appeal somewhat more elusive. Side Effects has Soderbergh’s name and another strong ensemble, and could go on to a respectable run, even though it won’t reach Contagion heights (the epidemic thriller eventually grossed $76 million).

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Box office update: Soderbergh's 'Side Effects' is no match for 'Identity Thief'

Identity Thief persevered in spite of winter storm Nemo, with an $11.2 million Friday opening. The R-rated Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy vehicle from director Seth Gordon opened wide in 3,141 theaters, and may be on track for a $35 million weekend. Bateman and Gordon scored big with Horrible Bosses, which had a $9.9 million Friday opening in July and went on to gross $117.5 million domestically. This is McCarthy’s first starring role, and could bode well for The Heat, which was pushed back to a June release. McCarthy also recently started a production company with her husband Ben Falcone and already has three projects in the works.

Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects fared less well, opening Friday in 2,605 theaters at $2.8 million–almost exactly on track with Soderbergh’s Haywire, which opened in late January 2012 with a $2.9 million Friday and a $8.4 million weekend. Channing Tatum’s last three movies, 21 Jump Street (March), The Vow (February), and Magic Mike (June), all had Friday grosses exceeding $10 million. Rooney Mara’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo opened decently the weekend before Christmas in 2011, but fizzled after that.

The area affected by Nemo represents about 12% of the country’s box office. AMC alone closed 43 theaters in the northeast corridor including in Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. New York theaters will attempt to open Saturday night, but Boston theaters are planning to remain closed through Sunday.

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Steven Soderbergh: Why he SHOULD retire. And then come back

Over the last few weeks, I can’t tell you how many people have asked me if Steven Soderbergh is really retiring, and the short answer I generally give them is, “Of course not.” Not that I’m questioning Soderbergh’s sincerity. He has said for several years that he plans to stop making feature films once he turns 50, and now that the big birthday has arrived (it was Jan. 14), he has clung, quite directly, to that public plan, discussing his new psycho-pharmacological Hitchcockian thriller, Side Effects, as if it’s the last movie of his that you’ll see in theaters. (Behind the Candelabra, his juicy-sounding late-career Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, was turned down by all the major studios, who were scared of the subject matter — are they nuts? — which is why it will be seen this spring on HBO.) I believe Soderbergh when, in his recent wide-ranging interview with New York magazine, he talks about what he plans to do now: continue to “direct,” but in more offbeat mediums (and maybe on television), and to pursue his love of painting. One of the painters he idolizes is Lucien Freud — in the same way, perhaps, that he reveres and even deifies Richard Lester as a movie director. Soderbergh has always been a creature of role models, a guy who emulates from the outside more than he obsesses from the inside, and that may be one of the reasons that he’s such a chameleon as a filmmaker. He has many subjects that stoke his momentary passion (corporate chicanery, Che Guevara, male strippers, antidepressants), but none, perhaps, that rouse him to the point of consuming him. He dives in, then moves on. I like that about him, but a part of me hopes that it’s one of the things his retirement changes. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Identity Thief' will steal No. 1 spot from 'Side Effects'

It’s no surprise that the 2013 box office has been cold in the first few weeks of the new year. That tends to be the case in January, when R-rated horror flicks and long-on-the-shelf action stinkers take up multiplex screens. But this weekend, the film industry is set to get even chillier due to a massive snowstorm that’s expected to bring much of the Northeast to a standstill.

Thus, this weekend’s two new releases, Identity Thief and Side Effects (which, almost unbelievably, are already the 10th and 11th R-rated wide releases of the year), are expected to perform moderately over their first three days in theaters. Here’s how the box office might shake out:

1. Identity Thief – $21 million

Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy teamed up for Universal’s $35 million comedy, which will easily top the chart over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Bateman has scored comedic hits with ensemble films like Horrible Bosses ($117.5 million) and Couples Retreat ($109.2 million), but he’s proven unreliable as a main selling point in films like 2011′s The Change Up, which opened with $13.5 million on the way to a $37.5 million total. McCarthy isn’t a tested box office lead, but she became the breakout star of Bridesmaids, and audiences may be curious to see her first leading role on the silver screen. READ FULL STORY

Channing Tatum makes out with Rooney Mara in 'Side Effects' -- EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS

Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara star in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming Side Effects as Emily and Martin, a married couple whose lives are turned upside down when Emily’s psychiatrist — played by Jude Law — prescribes her a drug that has potentially dangerous, you guessed it, side effects.

Check out new photos of the pair from the movie, including a shot of Tatum and Mara below! READ FULL STORY

Steven Soderbergh's 'Side Effects': A 'Hitchcock mindf--' says writer Scott Z. Burns

In the noir-ish trailer for Side Effects – the medical thriller from director Steven Soderbergh starring Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara, and Jude Law — a young woman (Mara) is suspected of a murder that has frightening implications for the makers of her mood-altering prescription medication. Or at least, that’s what it looks like. “There’s a lot more to it than that,” says screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, who previously teamed up with Soderbergh on Contagion and The Informant. “If you believe that’s what the trailer says, I’m not going to disabuse you of that. But I think there’s two or three more layers on top of that.” According to Burns, those layers include hints of Roman Polanski, Vladimir Nabokov, and Alfred Hitchcock. In other words, get ready to be more than a little disturbed.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did the idea for Side Effects come from?
SCOTT Z. BURNS:
Antidepressants are some of the leading-selling drugs in the country. When you start looking around the world at your friends, your family members who struggle with depression, who take these drugs — and the fact that the medical community doesn’t even know how these drugs work, it becomes an area that I think is ripe for some pretty interesting stories.

What was your first step in dramatizing that?
I’m not going to give you a lot of plot…  There’s a certain kind of complexity to human behavior, and when you layer in the fact that now we have the camouflage of drugs that can change your mood state, that was where we started. We wanted to make a movie that was sort of in the tradition of a Hitchcock mindf—.

Were any other movies or filmmakers on your mind while you were writing this?
The Roman Polanski movie from the 1960s, Repulsion. The operating principle in that it’s really hard to know what goes on inside another person. So for me, there was a bit of Repulsion, there’s a bit of Lolita going on.

In what way?
This was in some ways a kindred spirit and sequel to what Nabokov may have been doing in Lolita. Obviously Rooney isn’t that young; she’s not a teenager in this movie. But I think that when girls get sexualized as teenagers and then they get older, there’s a whole set of behaviors that they learn that allow them to manipulate the world around them. And they’re given those tools largely by men who want to be manipulated.

Side Effects arrives in theaters Feb. 8.

Read more:
‘Side Effects’ trailer: Steven Soderbergh takes on love and other drugs
Steven Soderbergh Gets Busy: Why this movie might be his last
‘Magic Mike’ on Blu-ray: It’s not a grind, guys — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

'Side Effects' trailer: Steven Soderbergh takes on love and other drugs

Could this moody, pulpy thriller about a depressed woman (Rooney Mara) and her possibly murder-inducing anxiety medication be the last feature Steven Soderbergh ever directs? Possibly — which is why it’s fitting that Side Effects, formerly known as Bitter Pill, functions sort of like a reunion film for Soderbergh vets. Look, it’s Contagion‘s Jude Law, Traffic‘s Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum — a.k.a. Magic Mike himself! (Bonus points: Tatum also starred in Soderbergh’s Haywire.) Too bad it seems like things aren’t going so well for any of their characters this time around.

Catch up with the gang from Soderbergh High by watching the trailer here:

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