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‘Identity Thief’ Regains Top Spot at Box Office

Universal comedy, starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, has cumed $93 million.

With Hollywood’s attention focused on a smaller screen for the 85th annual Academy Awards this weekend, a dearth of new offerings left the big screen open for a steal from Universal’s “Identity Thief” in its third week in theaters.The domestic B.O. is off 21% from last year’s Oscar weekend, when Relativity’s “Act of Valor” and Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry-produced “Good Deeds” earned $24.5 million and $15.6 million, respectively.

Identity Thief” grossed $14.1 million this frame, down 41% from last weekend, for a cume of $93.7 million. This is the laffer’s second time on top since its bow; pic lost its soph sesh to Fox’s “A Good Day to Die Hard,” which dropped to fifth this frame with $10 million.Internationally, however, the Bruce Willis actioner remains on top with $35.7 million from 67 markets. Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” surged to second after opening in China to the tune of $17.8 million. The epic earned $18.6 million in total in its 11th weekend in release overseas for a worldwide cume of $979.9 million.

Approaching a box office milestone, “Les Miserables” earned $9.3 million in international coin this frame for a worldwide cume of $394.9 million. It is expected to cross $400 million during the week, and marks producer Working Title’s highest grossing film of all time, surpassing 1999’s “Notting Hill.”

Though it ended Friday on par with “Thief,” Summit’s “Snitch” landed in second with an estimated $13 million this weekend Stateside. Similarly, Weinstein Co. bowed chiller “Dark Skies” to slim appeal this frame with $8.9 million. Both “Dark Skies” and “Snitch” were tracking low going into the weekend, so while disappointing, neither gross should be a surprise.

Another Weinstein offering, 3D holdover “Escape From Planet Earth,” took third with $11 million. Pic is down just 31% for its soph sesh, and has cumed $35.1 million thus far. Sandwiched between the toon and the latest “Die Hard” entry, Relativity’s “Safe Haven” took $10.6 million in three days.

Oscar weekends tend to be among lower performing weekends of the year. Like much of the early part of the year, genre actioners and scarers open to counterprogram the heavier fare most talked about during the Oscar buzz cycle.

TWC distribution topper Eric Lomis says this was the thinking behind the Oscar weekend berth for “Dark Skies.” Though the pic didn’t hit stellar opening numbers, it was produced for only $3.5 million and TWC was only on the hook for supplying P&A. Moreover, the film strengthens TWC’s footprint in the microbudget horror biz.

“We’re happy to be in the Jason Blum business,” Lomis shared of the producer behind “Skies” and the boffo “Paranormal Activity” franchise. “We hope to do more with him.”

“Snitch” repped the action genre with a 53% male aud. Summit picked up U.S. distribution rights from Exclusive Media Group for a sum in the low-single digits, making both of this frame’s openers low risk bets.

The buzz around Oscar weekend best serves kudo contenders. “Silver Linings Playbook” dropped only 3% week-to-week even after dialing back by 190 locations. Lomis says how the next few weeks play out for the film, which is the highest performing best picture player this weekend, can be determined now that the show is over.

“Given the right set of circumstances, we’ll be adding locations again,” Lomis said, adding that more than 500 additional playdates is a reasonable guess.

In limited release, Arenas Entertainment expanded “Bless Me Ultima” from single plexes in New Mexico and Texas to 263 locations, adding around $500,000 to double its cume to date.

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