At the multiplexes this weekend, it’s “Batman v Superman” v Melissa McCarthy.
If things break her way, McCarthy, one of the most consistent box office forces in comedy, may even vanquish the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel when her new comedy, “The Boss,” hits theaters. The R-rated look at a former billionaire whose Concorde-riding, champagne-sipping lifestyle derails after she is sent to prison for insider trading is debuting across 3,481 locations, where it should pull in $21 million. That’s in line with previous McCarthy-driven debuts, such as “Tammy” ($21.6 million) and “Spy” ($29.1 million ) and it would be a healthy start for the $29 million production. Universal backed the film, which co-stars Kristen Bell (“Veronica Mars”) and Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”).
Barring a last minute surge for “The Boss,” “Batman v Superman” will hold on to the top slot for the third consecutive weekend, but it will be a close contest for first place. After falling a steep 69% in its second weekend to $51.3 million, the superhero match-up will probably experience a softer decline. A third weekend of roughly $25 million seems likely, but there’s no denying that having racked up more than $260 million domestically, the comic-book film is starting to fade. Globally, the picture has put up nearly $700 million in receipts, but it is losing theaters in China, and will have a tough time hitting $100 million in the world’s second-largest market for film. It now seems as though a $1 billion global gross, the rarefied air breathed by elite blockbusters, will remain out of reach.
The pressure on “Batman v Superman” is immense. Warner Bros. shelled out $250 million to make the movie, hoping it would set the stage for a sprawling series of sequels and spinoffs featuring DC Comics superheroes such as the Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. But bad reviews and an iffy B CinemaScore appear to have taken a toll, and there are questions about just how enthusiastic fans are for this dark vision of caped and costumed vigilantes.
“Financially it will be fine, but when you think about laying the groundwork for the whole DC universe, they probably wanted it to have a bigger pop,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners.
It’s not all McCarthy and men in suits at the multiplexes. STX Entertainment is offering up the point-of-view thriller “Hardcore Henry,” hoping to attract younger males well acquainted with the pleasures of the console. It’s an innovative film, told in a first-person style that brings to mind video games, but tracking suggests it is having trouble breaking through the clutter. “Hardcore Henry” should bring in $8 million across roughly 3,000 screens. STX acquired the picture out of the Toronto Film Festival, paying $10 million in a bidding war. However, it reduced its financial exposure to roughly $2 million via international sales.
The box office will have trouble matching the year-ago period when “Furious 7” racked up $59.6 million in its second weekend, but help is on the way. Looming on the horizon is “The Jungle Book,” a live-action version of the Rudyard Kipling fables that has enjoyed glowing reviews. It is expected to dominate ticket sales when it hits theaters on April 15.