Will Winter Storm Nemo Affect ‘Identity Thief’ At The Weekend Box Office?

Wintry weather across the northeast has experts questioning the success Melissa McCarthy's comedy this weekend.

Melissa McCarthy won’t have to worry about that “always a bridesmaid, never the bride” cliché after this weekend. “Identity Thief,” starring the comedic actress who stole the show in the surprise smash “Bridesmaids,” should easily land the #1 spot at the box office, besting fellow newcomer “Side Effects” in the process.

But the big question mark is how the blizzard baring down on the northeast — nicknamed Winter Storm Nemo — will affect the weekend box office. While “Identity Thief” has been expected to open between $20 million and $30 million, Nemo could bury New England in as much as two feet of snow, while New York City is bracing for 14 inches or more. With the Big Apple accounting for roughly 8 percent of U.S. box-office revenue, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “Identity Thief” could suffer a significant opening-weekend hit. TheWrap estimates that overall box-office grosses could fall as much as five percent.

In the Seth Gordon-directed film, McCarthy plays a woman who steals the identity of Bateman’s character. The movie was directed by Seth Gordon. “Bateman has a solid following, particularly after the success of ‘Horrible Bosses,’ ” noted MovieFanatic.com’s Joel Amos. “This is from the same director. And with McCarthy’s building fanbase, this should be a hit.”

IMDb.com’s Keith Simanton caught an early preview of the film, which shouldn’t suffer too badly from the lowly 28 percent critical average it landed on Rotten Tomatoes. “This was one of the most crowded previews I’ve seen this year and I think it easily takes the #1 slot,” he said. Simanton’s estimate was a bit higher than most pundits. “I think it easily takes the #1 slot with $32 million.”

“Side Effects,” on the other hand, boasts an 82 percent Tomatometer rating but will have to settle for #2 or possibly even #3, depending on the second weekend performance of last weekend’s #1 film, “Warm Bodies.” Director Stephen Soderbergh has said he’s retiring soon; unfortunately, “Side Effects” doesn’t look likely to be another “Magic Mike.”

“Since it is the more literate, smarter, wittier film [than 'Identity Thief'], it shall be ignored!” joked Simanton. “Actually, with some good ‘don’t tell anyone’ reviews, ‘Side Effects’ should make around $12 million this weekend.” He pointed out that while the movie stars Channing Tatum, it won’t have the girls’ night out appeal of “Magic Mike,” nor does it have the “easily grasped premise” of the director’s “Contagion,” which opened with $22 million in 2011.

A second act may be hard for “Warm Bodies” this weekend, too, as it had Super Bowl weekend more or less all to itself. “It’ll be a cold day in hell when a film in January actually holds on to the top spot for more than one weekend. In fact, that feat hasn’t been accomplished since James Cameron’s mighty ‘Avatar’ ruled the box office,” said Bock.

Another film hoping to take a victory lap this weekend will be the Tom Cruise classic “Top Gun,” which is getting the IMAX treatment in anticipation of the 3-D Blu-ray release. Paramount pulled the same trick with “Raiders of the Lost Ark” last year, which boasted a stronger per-screen average than any of the new films that arrived that weekend.

“Expect this to do similar business,” Bock predicted, referencing the $1.6 million whipped up by Indy.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Identity Thief.”