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    Box Office: Identity Thief Has Last Laugh

    Identity Thief Bob Mahoney/Universal Pictures

    Identity Thief stole the weekend box office.  

    The new Jason Bateman-Melissa McCarthy comedy grossed an estimated $36.6 million.

    The three-day take is the biggest of the year so far; it's the fifth-biggest opening ever for a non-sequel R-rated comedy. 

    McCarthy talks Identity Thief sex scene with Eric Stonestreet

    Universal Pictures, the studio behind Identity Thief, projected that the movie could've hit $40 million had it not been for the Northeast blizzard, which hit Friday, shuttered theaters and was blamed for cutting into box-office business across the board. (E! and Universal Pictures are both part of the NBCUniversal family.

    Of those who managed to make it to the multiplex, women and the over-30 crowd drove much of Identity Thief's ticket sales. The film was graded a solid B by opening-weekend audiences, a distinct break with critics, who piled on the film, and Rex Reed, who just got mean.

    Elsewhere, Warm Bodies ($11.5 million; $36.7 million overall domestically), last weekend's No. 1 film, showed strong legs even as it slipped to second place.

    Argo the favorite as Oscar voting begins

    Side Effects, the new Steven Soderbergh thriller with Rooney Mara, was more The Informant! than Magic Mike, debuting with $10 million.

    Among Oscar movies, Ben Affleck's Argo ($2.5 million; $123.7 million overall domestically), in theaters since last October, stormed back into the Top 10, and, as on the Best Picture leaderboard, surged past Steven Spielberg's Lincoln ($1.9 million; $173.6 million overall domestically).

    Old Tom Cruise, meaning 1980s Tom Cruise, had a very good weekend. The IMAX 3-D re-release of Top Gun ($1.9 million) very nearly cracked the Top 10 on the strength of only 300 theaters.

    Here's a complete look at the weekend's top movies, per Friday-Sunday studio estimates and stats as compiled per Exhibitor Relations:

    1. Identity Thief, $36.6 million
    2. Warm Bodies, $11.5 million
    3. Side Effects, $10 million
    4. Silver Linings Playbook, $6.9 million
    5. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, $5.8 million
    6. Mama, $4.3 million 
    7. Zero Dark Thirty, $4 million
    8. Argo, $2.5 million
    9. Django Unchained, $2.3 million
    10. Bullet to the Head, $2 million

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