Starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, Paul Feig's buddy comedy The Heat opened with a remarkable -- and better than initially expected -- $39.11 million at 3,181 U.S. and Canada locations according to the June 28-30, 2013, weekend box office figures found at Box Office Mojo. This weekend in North America, The Heat trailed only last weekend's holdover, Disney / Pixar's Monsters University, which collected $45.6 million. (See also how White House Down does Channing Tatum no favors.")
A 20th Century Fox release reportedly budgeted at $41 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses, or contractual box-office-gross-sharing obligations), The Heat went above the $35 million I'd predicted on Saturday because that day's estimates found at Deadline.com were lower than in reality. The Heat was up 5 percent on Saturday, even though Friday's box office take included late Thursday shows.
Also worth noting is that the studio's Sunday box office estimate -- $40 million -- was nearly $1 million higher than The Heat's actual gross. That's apparently because Fox expected a more modest Sunday drop-off rate in relation to the previous day.
The Heat vs. Bridesmaids, Identity Thief
For comparison's sake: Paul Feig's Bridesmaids, which earned Melissa McCarthy a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, earned $26.24 million on its first weekend out in May 2011, eventually reaching $169.1 million in the United States and Canada, plus $119.27 million elsewhere. (See comparisons to Sandra Bullock movies below.)
Starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, Seth Gordon's Identity Thief debuted with $34.55 million in early February 2013, cuming at $134.5 million in North American, while raking in an additional $39.45 million internationally. The disappointing international gross shouldn't come as a surprise, as neither McCarthy nor Bateman are international stars, and Identity Thief never became another Bridesmaids, a comedy whose risqué humor compensated for its lack of international big names.
Both in North America and internationally, expect The Heat's final box office gross to land somewhere between those of Bridesmaids and Identity Thief.
Sandra Bullock's biggest opening weekends in North America
Best Actress Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock has starred in a not inconsiderable number of domestic box office hits in the last two decades or so, e.g., The Blind Side, The Proposal, Miss Congeniality, Two Weeks Notice, A Time to Kill, While You Were Sleeping, Speed. Looking at the list of Bullock's opening-weekend grosses at Box Office Mojo, it's clear that The Heat boasts her biggest debut-weekend ever -- even when taking inflation into account.
Two 2009 Sandra Bullock movies, The Blind Side and The Proposal, opened with, respectively, $34.11 million and $33.62 million. Adjusted for inflation, each movie would have grossed around $35-$36 million. Even going back all the way to the blockbuster Speed, in which Bullock was paired up with Keanu Reeves, The Heat remains ahead: at 2,169 locations, Speed collected $14.45 million, or about $27 million in 2013 dollars.
Of note: Sandra Bullock has another movie coming out in 2013, the considerably less commercial, more serious-minded Gravity. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón and co-starring Academy Award winner George Clooney (Syriana), the solar-system-set, two-person psychological adventure drama opens on October 4. Expect buzz surrounding The Heat to rub off on Gravity, if not at the box office, then at least when it comes to awards season time, as voters will gently (or not so gently) be reminded of Bullock's versatility as an actress. (Watch Gravity trailer.)
The Heat stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy
In addition to stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, The Heat's cast includes Best Actor Oscar nominee Demián Bichir (A Better Life), Michael Rapaport, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, Marlon Wayans, Spoken Reasons, Michael McDonald, and veteran Jane Curtin. Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation, MADtv) is credited for the film's screenplay -- which has nothing in common with Michael Mann's thriller Heat, which starred Al Pacino and Robert De Niro back in 1995.
Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat image: 20th Century Fox.