3RD WRITE THRU, 9:20AM Saturday: As of this morning, Universal’s R-rated comedy The Boss is drawing a line in the sand with Warner Bros.’ Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice with each looking at a projected weekend of $21.8M as they wrestle for No. 1.  Both are coming in toward the lower end of expectations, and part of that has to do with spring breaks in slowdown mode. ComScore says 15% of all schools were out yesterday, down from 30% a week ago, while 4% will be off on Monday. However other reasons abound for both titles’ light ticket sales. If Boss wins it will be by a couple hundred thousand.

Even though The Boss is considered a win internally for Universal, and will likely profit off its estimated $29M production cost and $70M global P&A, others in the industry say the R-rated comedy is a cautionary tale for the bankable Melissa McCarthy. The Boss didn’t turn on audiences and critics who, respectively, graded her a nasty C+ CinemaScore and a stinky 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s a progress report which brings to mind McCarthy’s Tammy (the 5-day opener made $21.6M over its FSS), which like Boss, was directed by her husband and fellow Groundling alum Ben Falcone. Tammy posted a 3.9 multiple for an $84.5M domestic B.O. off a C+ grade and awful reviews of 23% rotten. But aside from the comp, rivals are noticing that the returns and audience/critical reactions for McCarthy’s fare are ebbing. Should studios continue on this course, and throw whatever McCarthy comedy against the wall, they could damage a solid star-driven B.O. machine which pulls in multiples of 3.8 to 4.1.

Spy was supposed to open in the mid-$30M range and trickled its way down to $29M. The Boss‘ opening will be -25% off from Spy‘s $29M opening last summer, which was down another 25% from her highest grossing opening, The Heat ($39.1M). That action comedy was also propped by Sandra Bullock’s marquee wattage.

In regards to The Boss’ performance this weekend, one distribution chief, whose opinion was echoed by a number of other rival sources, snarked, “She should stop doing movies with her husband!” As cruel as it sounds (Falcone is truly a nice guy), the point is that their pair-up as director and star isn’t producing classic comedies. Furthermore, Tammy‘s overseas ticket sales were atrocious at $16M compared with the $124.8M chalked up by Spy and $70.3M by The Heat. Deadline sibling Variety in its review of The Boss called it “the second big-screen love child” between McCarthy and Falcone “that’s one ugly baby.” Well, there are more kids coming as New Line has just set up their third combo Life of the Party

“She needs to do things that add to her repertoire by working with good directors,” one financier exclaimed citing McCarthy’s collaborations with directors Paul Feig and Seth Gordon. While The Boss was based on a character that McCarthy hatched in her Groundlings sketch shows, the cocky rich woman is deemed as quirky as her blue-collar Tammy — i.e., not as accessible as her foul-mouthed cop in Heat, her fish-out-of water CIA analyst-turned-field agent in Spy, her scene-stealing tough gal in Bridesmaids and her Identity Thief. And while I like to gloat how review-proof tentpoles and bawdy comedies are, a distribution chief reminded me today that the actress’ well-reviewed fare “is the difference between a solid film with her fans or something bigger.” No disrespect to Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell, but it also makes a difference when McCarthy pairs herself with a marquee name like Bullock. According to financial sources, The Heat made a $62M net profit after counting total theater rental, home entertainment and global TV streams at $532.9M.

Universal saw that the The Boss had more potential as an R-rated comedy than keeping it at PG-13. But they didn’t change-up the materials, and that’s rubbed some rivals the wrong way. One studio executive wags his finger: “There’s a problem when you have an R-rated comedy and there are a lot of kids involved in the movie and in the marketing. That’s a fine line to walk. ‘Hey kids let’s go get margaritas!’ ‘Hey, let’s go punch that person in the face!’ That’s hard for moviegoers to swallow. It’s fine to broaden your comedy’s audience, but just make sure it’s for the right reasons. For example, Universal clearly sold Neighbors on its merits as an R-rated film.” One marketing point Uni definitely got right with The Boss: They scrapped the film’s original title of Michelle Darnell. 

Similar to Spy, The Boss pulled in an older female audience at 62% women, 80% over 25. That crowd doesn’t come out all at once during opening weekend, hence the reason why McCarthy does so well in her multiples. Sixty-two percent of moviegoers on Friday night said McCarthy was the main reason why they showed up, which is in sync with the comedienne’s 64% draw on Spy. The only crowd that gave The Boss an A+ were the 4% under-18 who showed up. One imagines how much more The Boss would gross had it stayed with a PG-13 rating. Would more under-18ers buy tickets?

Both McCarthy and Falcone got out there to promote The Boss, appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and engaging in a Chopped-like food-prep competition. The comedienne is receiving the MTV Comedic Genius Award this Sunday. She appeared on Saturday Night Live back on Feb. 11, however, that episode re-aired on March 26 ahead of the movie. Bell was also on the PR tour too appearing on multiple radio and talk shows.

batman v superman 2Elsewhere at the B.O., BvS is still not as popular as other superheros among fanboys. Its third weekend is less than what Uni’s Furious 7 took in during its third sesh with $29.7M, and it’s dogging Iron Man 3’s third weekend ($35.8M), which some B.O. analysts have compared it to. BvS‘ domestic total of $295.1M looks to near Zootopia‘s six weekend cume by Sunday. Among superhero films’ third weekends, BvS is at the lower end, however, note that most of them play in the summer when audiences are available, so it’s difficult to comp. BvS third frame is higher than Man of Steel ($20.7M), but lower than Iron Man 3 ($35.8M), which some have compared it to leg-wise. BvS’ worldwide B.O. now stands at $742.8M, inching closer to that $800M mark. Remember, our sources calculated that in order for BvS to turn a minimum profit in the theatrical window, it would need to do about $925M in global ticket sales. Nonetheless, should the film fall short, it should still profit once ancillary markets are counted.

Hardcore HenrySTX Entertainment’s $10M Toronto International Film Festival pick-up Hardcore Henry is a bloody mess with a $2M Friday, a $5.1M weekend and C+ black eye in fifth place. This is well under the $7M-$10M projections that were being floated earlier in the week. STX has a $2M-$5M financial exposure on this first-person shooter which exhibitors feared would give audiences motion sickness. While the target here were guy gamers 17-34, you have a better chance of dynamiting 60-year-olds out of their living rooms to watch The Danish Girl than before getting vidgamers in the theater. STX was completely aware of these challenges, particularly in that Henry was a difficult title to comp. Nonetheless, the studio vied to give Henry the best launch it could with an SXSW debut: If you want to reach twentysomething fanboys and hipsters, it’s in Austin. The film’s 55% rotten tomato score is skewed: Only 77 critics reviewed it next to the 300-plus norm who file on a tentpole like BvS. The first Henry trailer targeted gamers on the gaming platform Twitch. There was also an integration with pioneering game developer Starbreeze through their game Payday 2, which is actively used by 9M-plus gamers. Special and original content from the movie was featured throughout the game in recent days. Sixty-five percent of those who cared to watch Henry came out because of the type of movie it was, and they also gave it a C+. The film, directed by Ilya Naishuller, drew 73% men, 54% over 25. The over-50 crowd that showed up at 6% gave Henry an F, while the under-18 demo at 13% was more forgiving with an A- CinemaScore.

DemolitionFox Searchlight’s Jake Gyllenhaal drama Demolition is, of course, not smashing any records with a projected $1.1M opening at 854 runs. Whenever indie films post this type of business in just under 1,000 theaters, the end results aren’t good (some titles leg out to $2M or $3M). Also for an adult drama like this, Demolition doesn’t have the critical support at 51% rotten to provoke arthouse crowds to attend. Gyllenhaal brilliantly loses himself on screen playing a tormented widower whose wife has died in a car crash, but it’s a dark, dark movie. Searchlight opened this at TIFF, and they were wise to keep it out of last year’s awards season. Spring is less competitive, but with Searchlight taking this wide versus a platform, it’s obvious the label had to make its money back fast. Prior to Wild‘s Oscar run and $52.5M global B.O., Searchlight beat out U.S. buyers to get back in business with director Jean-Marc Valle in October 2014. Demolition is based on a Black List script by Bryan Sipe, and it was co-financed by Black Label Media and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.

Also, Bleecker Street’s drone political thriller Eye in the Sky chalked up a decent hold of -33% in its fifth week, cracking the top 10 with $2.6M and a running total of $10.2M. Paramount’s Richard Linklater 1980s college kid comedy Everybody Wants Some!! is showing a hearty $7K per theater on its way to a second FSS of $461K, +47%.

The Top 10 films based off Friday PM industry estimates for the weekend of April 8-10, 2016

1).Batman v Superman (WB), 4,102 theaters (-154)/ $6.1M Fri. (-59%)/ 3-day cume: $21.8M (-58%)/Total Cume: $295.1M/ Wk 3

The Boss (UNI), 3,480 theaters/ $8.1M Fri.*/ 3-day cume: $21.8M/ Wk 1
*includes $985K Thursday preview

3). Zootopia (DIS), 3,444 theaters (-254)/ $3.5M Fri. (-38%)/ 3-day cume: $14.2M (-26%)/Total Cume: $296.9M/Wk 6

4). My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (UNI), 3,027 theaters (-152)/ $1.9M Fri. (-46%) / 3-day cume: $6.2M (-45%)/Total Cume: $46.6M /Wk 3

5). Hardcore Henry (STX), 3,015 theaters/ $2M** Fri./ 3-day cume: $5.1M/ Wk 1

**includes $380K Thursday preview

6). Miracles From Heaven (SONY), 2,783 theaters (+372)/ $1.3M Fri.(-41%) / 3-day cume: $4.4M (-39%)/Total Cume: $53.4 M/ Wk 4

7). God’s Not Dead 2 (PURE), 2,379 theaters (-40)/ $1.2 Fri (-60%)./ 3-day cume: $4M (-48%)/Total cume: $13.8M/ Wk 2

8). Allegiant (LG), 2,503 theaters (-515)/ $1M Fri.  (-44%)/ 3-day cume: $3.4M (-40%)/Total cume: $61.7M/Wk 4

9). 10 Cloverfield Lane (PAR), 1,886 theaters (-625)/ $818K Fri. (-42%) / 3-day: $2.7M (-41%)/Total cume: $67.7M Wk 5

10). Eye in the Sky (BLST), 1,089 theaters (+60)/ $790K Fri. (-33%) / 3-day cume: $2.6M (-34%)/Total Cume: $10.2MWk 5

Notables:

Meet the Blacks (FREE), 1,007 theaters (-8)/ $572K Fri (-60%)./ 3-day cume: $2M (-52%)/Total cume: $7.2M/ Wk 2

Demolition (FSL), 854 theaters / $363K Fri/ 3-day cume: $1.1M/ Wk 1

Midnight Special (WB), 493 theaters (+435)/ $326K Fri. (+89%)/ 3-day cume: $1.05M (+91%)/Total Cume: $2.2M /Wk 4

Everybody Wants Some!! (PAR), 63 theaters (+44) / $143K Fri. (+45%) / 3-day: $461K (+47%)/$7K PTA/Total cume: $925K/Wk 2

Miles Ahead (SPC), 25 theaters (+21)/ $59K Fri. /3-day cume: $198K (+73%)/ Total cume: $348K/Wk 2

The Invitation (DRFT), 6 theaters / $16K Fri/ 3-day cume: $47K/ Wk 1

High Strung (PALA), 100 theaters / $13K Fri/ 3-day cume: $41K/ Wk 1

Mr. Right (FOCW), 35 theaters / $8K Fri/ 3-day cume: $25K/ Wk 1

Louder Than Bombs (ORCH), 4 theaters / $8K Fri/ 3-day cume: $23K/ Wk 1

Vita Activa: The Spirit (ZTG), 1 theaters / $4K Fri/ 3-day cume: $10K/ Wk 1

One More Time (STARZ), 20 theaters / $3K Fri/ 3-day cume: $9K/ Wk 1

PREVIOUS, 12:19 PM: Warner Bros’ Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is now looking like it will come in lower with a decline of 50%-55% for $23.1M-$25.65M, which is just shy of the three-century mark with a running cume through its third weekend of $296.4M-$298.9M. Now, Warners wasn’t expecting the Zack Snyder film to cross $300M this weekend, but rather during CinemaCon this coming week. I hear that the magic number internally which will really make Warner execs truly happy is $800M.

Despite buzz that advance ticket sales are clicking for Melissa McCarthy headliner The Bossthe R-rated pic is now looking at an $8M Friday — including last night’s near-$1M — and a $21M FSS. Older women plan their visits to the cinema in groups, so there’s a chance its ticket sales could improve by nightfall.

STX Entertainment’s first-person shooter Hardcore Henry is looking at $2.4M for today, coming in closer to the lower end of its projections with $7M. Fox Searchlight’s Demolition isn’t set to wow with a $1M-$1.5M opening for the weekend. More later.

The BossPREVIOUS, 7:21 AM: Universal’s R-rated Melissa McCarthy comedy The Boss drew $985K from 7 PM shows last night at 2,533 theaters, however, Warner Bros.’ Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice continued to reign supreme with a No. 1 take of $2.7M at 4,256.

The Thursday night take for The Boss slots below McCarthy’s R-rated comedies Spy ($1.5M), Tammy ($1.3M) and The Heat ($1M), but those were all released in the summer when there’s better access to crowds. When Boss is compared to her February 2013 R-rated title Identity Thief, which made $409K on its preview night, it fared quite well. Identity Thief went on to open to $34.6M.

The Boss is expected to rake in a FSS between $20M-$24M, while BvS per industry projections is looking at $27M-$28M in first place, a -45 to -47% third-frame drop after falling precipitous -69% last weekend.

BATMAN V SUPERMANShould BvS come in at that level, it will crack the $300M mark at the domestic B.O. Unlike last weekend, BvS is facing new competition, but it’s not losing that many theaters, exactly 154, as it moves from 4,256 to 4,102.

A gross in the $20M neighborhood for Boss, puts it in the vicinity of McCarthy’s Tammy ($21.6M FSS), which was also directed by her Groundlings alum-husband Ben Falcone. The film, about the downfall and noble rebound of the 14th wealthiest woman in the U.S., was based on one of McCarthy’s characters at the Melrose Ave. sketch/improv theater. Per Fandango, Boss was outpacing Tammy in its advance ticket sales.

Hardcore Henry MovieSTX Entertainment has its first-person P.O.V. hyper-action title Hardcore Henry also going wide. STX bought the film out of Toronto two years ago for $10M and it is expected to gross $7M-$10M over FSS in 3,000-plus runs, inclusive of 200 PLFs. The film previewed last night at 9 PM, and grossed $380K. Also per Fandango yesterday, Henry was outstripping last August’s Hitman: Agent 47 in its advance ticket cycle. That movie opened to $8.3M. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes are giving Henry a 50% rotten score, which is better than what Boss is earning with an awful 19%.

Fox Searchlight has last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival opener, Demolitionabout a husband who truly unwinds following his wife’s death. The drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal is looking to pull in $2M-$3M at 854 locations. Critics are also divided on the title with a 53% rotten score.