LOS ANGELES — “Identity Thief" will make a name for itself this weekend as the comedy is poised to easily pocket the No. 1 spot at the box office.
The film, co-starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, is set to debut with a strong $25 million, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. The only other movie hitting theaters this weekend, Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller “Side Effects," will start off with a far lower sum of about $12 million.
“Identity Thief" marks the first major feature film role for McCarthy, who gained massive popularity after her Oscar-nominated supporting turn in 2011’s comedy “Bridesmaids." Though she has appeared in a number of films over the years and stars in the CBS sitcom “Mike & Molly," this year is the first that the 42-year-old actress will be able to prove she has box office clout.
In the movie, McCarthy plays a big-haired criminal on the run from Bateman’s character, whose identity she has stolen. The film marks the second collaboration between Bateman and director Seth Gordon, who first worked together on the raunchy 2011 hit “Horrible Bosses."
“Identity Thief," co- financed by distributor Universal Pictures and Elliot Inc. for roughly $35 million, will also open this weekend in five small foreign markets, including Taiwan and Croatia.
“Side Effects," meanwhile, is the last movie Soderbergh has said he will direct for the big screen. Though an HBO movie he directed about Liberace will air this month on the cable network, the prolific filmmaker recently told the New Yorker he is ready to depart the movie business at 50 because he wants to paint.
If the film indeed is his last, Soderbergh is going out on a high note, as “Side Effects" has received high critical praise. As of Wednesday, the movie featuring Jude Law and Rooney Mara had notched a 81 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film follows a young woman (Mara) who is severely depressed and seeks clinical help from a psychologist (Law). Her therapist prescribes antidepressants to ease her pain, but a number of the medications give her troubling side effects.