Melissa McCarthy Fires Up ‘The Heat’ For #2 And $40M Weekend; #4 ‘White House Down’ Flops For $26M; ‘Monsters U’ Holds For #1

SUNDAY 10:30 AM, 7H UPDATE: It’s already crowded at the pre-Fourth Of July domestic box office which will need to expand in time to accommodate so many movies playing during the holiday. True, total filmgoing this weekend went down -8.5% from a year ago for only $192M. But studios are scrambling to see when the last time all Top Five movies made more than $20+M for the 3-day weekend. On Friday, the order of finish changed hour by hour but then fixed firmly for Saturday and apparently Sunday. Pixar/Disney’s huge hit from a week ago Monsters University is still the strong #1 as families crave toons. But the real story is this weekend’s newcomers: Twentieth Century Fox’s The Heat debuted a big #2 as fan favorite Melissa McCarthy again sets off R-rated fireworks with audiences. But Sony Pictures’ White House Down really disappointed in #4, opening a third less than Hollywood expected and ensuring its high cost will make it impossible to earn out. But the studio is still hoping for a 4x holiday-aided multiple. Both pics received ‘A-‘ CinemaScores from audiences to help word of mouth. Top Ten numbers for the weekend are:

1. Monsters University 3D (Pixar/Disney) Week 2 [Runs 4,004] G
Friday $14.2M, Saturday $17.5M, Weekend $46.1M (-44%), Cume $171.0M

Great weekend hold. Easily stayed #1 after the +23% Saturday kiddie bump. But window for family fare will be fleeting once Universal’s sequel Despicable Me 2 hits North American marketplace wide on July 3rd. Foreign grosses still to come Sunday and no doubt will be just as huge.

2. The Heat (Fox) NEW [Runs 3,181] R
Friday $13.6M, Saturday $14.3M, Weekend $40.0M

Can’t help but praise how the women brought the heat for this $41M-budget estrogen-fueled buddy comedy. Even more impressive considering pic is R-rated. Chalk up another strong box office performance for Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock who began with $1M from Thursday’s 10 PM shows and Friday’s midnights and then increased grosses +5.5% from Friday to Saturday after audiences liked the pic. “Look for word of mouth to really kick in now, and The Heat to be hot for a good long while this summer,” a Fox exec gushed to me tonight. Fandango recognized first that the gals were bullying the guys, reporting it was the #1 ticketseller among new releases. The Heat even sold 50% more advance tickets than at the same time for director Paul Feig’s previous hit Bridesmaids. This one opened bigger than Melissa’s last biggie Identity Thief which opened with $34.5M and went on to do $134.5M all-in domestic. And yet someone still felt the need to photo-shop McCarthy almost beyond recognition for the movie’s previous one-sheet. (When will Hollywood ever learn?) Interesting that a Fandango survey showed 88% of ticketbuyers want more female-oriented laughers. Because Chernin Entertainment and Fox already are giving them the sequel. You can always tell if a studio is bullish over the tracking of an upcoming film by whether they start the wheels moving on the second installment before the original pic even comes out. Chernin Entertainment and Fox already made a pricey deal with Parks And Recreation TV writer and co-producer Katie Dippold to script the sequel after they already paid her low 7 figures for her spec script (and her first feature) about these mismatched female FBI agents. That’s the kind of low brow high-concept which marketing pros like Tony Sella and Oren Aviv can do successfully in their sleep. Which is why Fox was so convinced this pic would be a hit that it was moved directly into the fireworks of the July 4th holiday corridor. All in all a neat fit for the studio, which finances Chernin-produced films and also has a first-look deal with Feig. That director recently noted during a Cinema-Con panel that casting women in lead roles “was always shut down so quickly it was almost a rule”. Chernin Entertainment’s film president Jenno Topping who produced The Heat has a track record for female-centric pics.

3. World War Z 3D (Paramount) Week 2 [Runs 3,607] PG13
Friday $8.9M, Saturday $11.5M, Weekend $29.8M (-55%), Cume $123.7M

After last week’s surprise success, zombie pic had new audiences checking out the undead as shown by the +29% grosses from Friday to Saturday. Very decent -55% weekend hold. Expect big international numbers, too.

4. White House Down (Columbia/Sony) NEW [Runs 3,222]
Friday $9.0M, Saturday $9.3M, Weekend $25.7M

The Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx actioner on Friday went from #4 to #3 and then back down to #4 again. At least the two stars did their job and opened the film above $20M even if they were bullied by the broads. Unfortunately FilmDistrict’s earlier release Olympus Has Fallen had a similar plot and scooped up $30.3M opening the weekend of March 22nd. Sony admits White House Down was released in a tough Summer 2013 slot after World War Z opened surprisingly strong last weekend and before Lone Ranger starts holiday mid-week. (Original release date was November 1st.) WHD did $1.35M in Thursday late shows/Friday midnights which was soft. Studio claims budget was $150M with Montreal tax incentives but that’s way too expensive. Problem was all the above-the-line costs: for the two marquee actors plus director Roland Emmerich. “It would have all been fine if we didn’t come out two months after Olympus Has Fallen. Their gross plus ours would have been a big hit,” a Sony exec explains to me. This pic could even be one of the studio’s worst money-losers of the year depending on how it does overseas where Emmerich’s big-scale movies almost always become big hits globally. WHD opens day and date in about two dozen small countries this weekend (ie Aruba, Ethiopia, Kenya, Iraq). But the first major international territory won’t debut until mid-July. Emmerich first destroyed 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with far more shock value in 1996’s Independence Day. His track record since then is to come to the marketplace with a script, a budget, and a start date. That’s when studios respond by paying huge sums against extravagant back ends. But WHD went down ass backwards. Sony bought a $3M spec script from its Amazing Spider-Man scribe James Vanderbilt, whose Mythology Entertainment partners Brad Fischer and Laeta Kalogridis also produced. Emmerich was his usual derivative self, with one critic counting Independence Day, Die Hard, Air Force One, Lethal Weapon and Showtime’s Homeland as influences. Sony started promoting the pic during Jimmy Kimmel’s After Oscar show. Foxx’s song “Channing All Over Your Tatum” and star-studded video went viral for 3 million views on YouTube. NBA playoffs and finals, scripted and unscripted TV send-offs, and Yahoo/Facebook/MTV partnerships featured prominently in the marketing. But the movie tanked anyway.

5. Man Of Steel 3D (:egendary/Warner Bros) Week 3 [Runs 4,131]
Friday $6.0M, Saturday $8.4M, Weekend $20.8M, Cume $248.6M

Look at that impressive +39% bounce from Friday to Saturday still indicating tremendous wannasee. But there’s stiff box office competition for Superman right now continuing into the Fourth Of July holiday.

6. This Is The End (Columbia/Sony) Week 3 [Runs 2,710] R
Friday $2.6M, Saturday #3.3M, Weekend $8.7M, Cume $74.6M

7. Now You See Me (Summit/Lionsgate) Week 5 [Runs 2,564] PG13
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $5.5M, Cume $104.6M

8. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) Week 6 [Runs 1,550] PG13
Friday $729K, Saturday $992K, Weekend $2.4M, Cume $233.3M

9. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount) Week 7 [Runs 1,035] PG13
Friday $543K, Saturday $851K, Weekend $2.0M, Cume $220.5M

10. The Internship (New Regency/Fox) Week 4 [Runs 1,008]
Friday $425K, Saturday $488K, Weekend $1.4M, Cume $41.7M

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