Hollywood Won't Give Melissa McCarthy Props for Being A Box Office Draw
In an article for Vulture, writer Mark Harris calls out Hollywood for citing actor/designer Melissa McCarthy's string of movies as flops—even though they are legit box office hits.
Five years after making her mark in Bridesmaids, McCarthy worked on a slew of movies, starred in the CBS TV show "Mike and Molly," and launched a clothing line. Below, Harris breaks down her films' box office performances:
Since Bridesmaids, McCarthy has starred in five studio comedies — Identity Thief, The Heat, Tammy, Spy, and the current release The Boss — with average production budgets of $39 million (the cost of roughly 20 minutes of Batman v Superman); the first four averaged worldwide grosses of $185 million. (All five movies opened with a weekend take of $22 million or more.)
Critics from the New York Times and Dateline Hollywood have dismissed McCarthy's box office power. “Melissa McCarthy succeeded at the box office in The Boss, but just barely,” says the Times; Dateline Hollywood wrote, "Even though The Boss is considered a win internally for Universal and will likely profit … others in the industry say the R-rated comedy is a cautionary tale.”
How is McCarthy's line of work a "cautionary tale" in Hollywood? Harris has a theory:
Critics can like or dislike these movies and her work in them, but to survey them in toto and perceive uniformity feels like a willful refusal to see her at all, an insistence that the difference between her various performances matters less than the sameness of her strange determination to continue to be Melissa McCarthy while starring in movies. Is it because she looks so different than other movie stars that some people have convinced themselves she’s always the same?
If Hollywood treated all its actors fairly, then McCarthy would continue to get work if next films bombs at the box office. Almost every male actor's career is redeemed, or poise themselves for a comeback, after a box office disaster. But we're not there with McCarthy...yet.
Next up is the reboot of "Ghostbusters," which is getting mixed reviews. Fair enough. But the film's promotional campaign is Stay-Puft huge, and the power of McCarthy isn't going fade away anytime soon.