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The Boss? Batman V Superman?
What Will You See This Week?

Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

When you’re on a heater it feels like you can’t miss. Eddie Murphy in the 80s, Jim Carrey in the 90s, Adam Sandler in the 00s. Melissa McCarthy is no doubt the heir apparent to this comedic winning streak at the box office as her name, plastered sky high above the title, has pushed her last four films—“Spy,” “Tammy,” “The Heat,” and “Identity Thief” to heights that make studio heads salivate.

McCarthy’s movie stardom really began in 2011’s “Bridesmaids,” where she stole every scene she was in. Her Paul Feig collaboration has really paid off since then too, as “Spy” and “The Heat” are her two biggest solo hits globally, and really her best films.

“Tammy,” which was written and directed by her husband, Ben Falcone, was her least successful film—and her least funny by far—opening with $21M, but it still managed to hit $84M when all was said and done. Certainly respectable when your budget is just $20M.

This weekend McCarthy rolls out her second collaboration with her hubby, as Universal’s R-rated “The Boss” tries to prove her hot streak is still smoldering.  Shouldn’t be too difficult to turn a profit, as it cost under $30M to produce; however, like all great comedy acts, there comes a time when the act wears thin. Could this be the film that definitively signals that?

There are many studios that hope the answer is no. Sony has a lot riding on McCarthy this summer as Feig’s “Ghostbusters” reboot would certainly benefit from some positive buzz if “The Boss” becomes another one of her $100M hits.

In 3,300+ theaters “The Boss” should have no problem reaching $20M, but the $34M “Identity Thief” debuted with seems like a stretch, as the trailers haven’t built up much buzz. Remember though, “Tammy” (23%) and “Identity Thief” (19%) certainly didn’t need the critics in her back pocket on Rotten Tomatoes, and this is shaping up to be the worst reviewed film of her career–currently at just 17%.

McCarthy is a comedienne for the people, by the people…and it probably helps that she looks like most people. Audiences definitely relate to her and that’s a major part of her cheeky charm. We’ve never seen a movie star quite like her—she’s big on the big screen and that’s translating to big bucks, something previously only men like John Candy and Chris Farley got away with.

Hey, do you have a Go Pro in your drawer? Wanna make a movie and release it in theaters? That’s what Russian filmmaker/musician Ilya Naishuller did.

His film, “Hardcore Henry,” which ignited a bidding war at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, was shot primarily on a Go Pro Hero 3, and this weekend it’s dropping into 3,000+ theaters. Reviews have been decent; it’s currently rated at 66% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Not too shabby for a $10M investment by new kid on the block, STX Entertainment, which has had decent success with its inaugural slate, including this spring’s chill pill, “The Boy” ($35M), as well as “The Gift” ($43M) last summer.

The one thing it has going against it—it’s basically an arthouse flick masquerading as a multiplex marauder, and to top that off, it’s highly derivative of first-person video games like “Doom” and “Call of Duty.”

We all know that video games and the box office go together about as well as Donald Trump and Zen-like meditation. I mean, you might as well invest in a border wall between Mexico and the U.S. as throw money at video game adaptations. At least with a major construction undertaking you’d probably get your name on a plaque somewhere, instead of ending up as the butt of another box office bad joke.

The other limiting factor will likely be the fact that teenagers and cinephile hipsters may be the only audience for the R-rated action flick, which STX is estimating will make anywhere from $7-$9M.

That number seems a bit bullish to me. Upon viewing the trailer in theaters with audiences, I heard a lot of comments wondering if what they were seeing an ad for a fake movie or some new video game app, as the lines between films and video games have definitely blurred with familiar faces like Arnold Schwarzenegger doing trailers for video games instead of films these days.

I just wonder if this is too much of a cinematic oddity for general audiences to digest. How STX snuck “Hardcore Henry” into 3,000+ theaters is beyond me. I’m excited (yeah, of course, that’s a roll of quarters in my pocket), don’t get me wrong–its not every day a film shot on a pocket camera gets released in multiplexes–but I’ll be impressed if the genre defying flick punches up much more than $5M.

This might be a case where critics think it’s cool, but audiences react coolly towards it. “Outside-the-box” is not something multiplex masses are known for.

Director Jean-Marc Vallee has made two exceptional films in a row in “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Wild,” putting on a master class in indie filmmaking while showcasing some of the most honest performances you’ll see in American cinema today.

An actor’s director if there ever was one. His latest, “Demolition,” stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Chris Cooper and looks like a drama cut from the same cloth as his previous efforts—absorbing, intense, enlightening.

Problem here is that Vallee’s latest R-rated endeavor isn’t receiving the glowing marks of his previous efforts, stalling out at 50% fresh.  His last films both soared, achieving top notch notoriety at 90%+, and both scored over $50M+ worldwide at the box office, too, which is pretty amazing these days for what comes down to extreme character pieces.

Fox Searchlight is going moderate-wide in 550+ theaters this weekend, which is also a departure for Vallee’s films, which previously opened exclusively and spread their wings, floating on positive reviews, before expanding wide. It’s a clear sign the indie shingle is going for the gusto opening weekend, as critics won’t help float this boat. Expect upwards of $3M.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. Batman V Superman – $24M
  2. The Boss – $20M
  3.  Zootopia – $15M
  4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – $7M
  5. Hardcore Henry – $5M

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PRIME CUT OF THE WEEK: Disney’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (Dec. 16, 2016)

It’s the first Star Wars spinoff…and it’s the prequel you’ve been waiting for. Right? SPOILER ALERT: They steal the Death Star plans! The end.

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SUB-PRIME CUT OF THE WEEK: FilmRise’s “Elstree 1976” (May 4, 2016)

May the fourth be with you. Need your Star Wars fix? This new documentary featuring bit players in the Star Wars universe looks pretty cool. A must for any hardcore SW fan. Note: Elstree is the name of the UK studios where “Star Wars” was filmed.

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: WB’s “Lego Batman Movie” (February 10, 2017)

Nobody seems to be able to decide whether or not “Batman V Superman” is actually a success, but there’s one thing everyone can agree on: THIS is the Batman movie we’ve all been waiting for!

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INDIE SLICE OF THE WEEK: A24’s “Swiss Army Man” (June 17, 2016)

Call it the arthouse version of “Weekend At Bernie’s” if you want, but this looks pretty cool–Harry Potter like you’ve never seen him before…almost totally dead. While it wasn’t the most well received film at Sundance this year, it certainly got folks talking.

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Lead-In Image Courtesy of Everett Historical / Shutterstock.com

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.