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‘Thief’s’ haul could depend on blizzard

Soderbergh thriller 'Side Effects' expected to land at around $10 mil

Melissa McCarthy is becoming a force of nature at the box office, though the comedy actress, whose “Identity Thief” launches for a potential $20 million-plus opening, faces another powerful force this weekend: Mother Nature.

The East Coast blizzard that will span from Toronto to as far south as Philadelphia could affect more than 10% of the overall weekend box office. New York, for instance, usually represents roughly 8%, while Boston sometimes contributes 2%, depending on the film.

Regardless of the weather, “Identity Thief” will win the weekend, as the only other wide release, Open Road’s Steven Soderbergh thriller “Side Effects,” is expected to land at around $10 million through Sunday.

The weekend’s most potent holdover, Summit’s “Warm Bodies,” could earn north of $10 million if it holds better than 50%, based on the film’s $20.4 million opening last weekend. “Warm Bodies” played exceptionally well with its targeted teen demo, and coupled with an R rating for “Identity Thief,” the Summit pic could hold better than expected.

Internationally, Sony’s “Django Unchained” could rule plexes for its fourth straight frame, thanks to a dearth of new overseas product. “Django” reached $158.4 million overseas through Feb. 3, with a Stateside cume of $151.9 million as of Wednesday.

Universal launches “Identity Thief” in a few Eastern European markets day and date. Fox, meanwhile, bows “A Good Day to Die Hard” a week early in a handful of emerging Asian territories.

Budgeted at a manageable $35 million, “Identity Thief” reunites Jason Bateman with his “Horrible Bosses” helmer Seth Gordon, with a supporting cast that includes Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau and Eric Stonestreet. Bateman plays a buttoned-up businessman from Denver who tracks down the woman who’s stolen his identity, played by McCarthy.

Universal ran three Super Bowl spots in an attempt to increase male interest; women drove initial tracking, based on appeal for McCarthy in her first starring role since “Bridesmaids.”

A February release is pretty unusual for an R-rated comedy, which studios typically save for summer. That said, “Identity Thief” could benefit from the out-of-the-box release.

Soderbergh’s “Side Effects,” which stars Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones, also will attract a mostly adult crowd. Open Road acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film last January.

The thriller, which cost $30 million to produce, could get lost among awards contenders, with sturdy players like the Weinstein Co.’s “Silver Linings Playbook” and Sony’s “Zero Dark Thirty” still doing considerable business. So far, “Playbook” has cumed $82.3 million domestically; “Thirty,” $78.6 million.

At the specialty box office, Chinese blockbuster “Lost in Thailand” opens at 29 AMC locations exclusively, while German-lingo Nazi pic “Lore,” from Music Box, bows at six coastal locations, two of which are in New York.

Paramount also launches its “Top Gun” 3D re-do at approximately 300 Imax locations, for an exclusive six-day engagement. Par feasibly could continue the pic’s run at non-Imax 3D locations after Feb. 13, though that’ll depend greatly on how the conversion performs. Pic’s 3D Blu-ray hits shelves Feb. 19.

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