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million dollar lady

Melissa McCarthy Outperforms Comedy’s Leading Men. Remind Me Again Why ‘Women Aren’t Funny’?

We all know that Melissa McCarthy is on a roll– between Bridesmaids, Identity Theft, and now the $40 million dollar opening of her buddy-cop movie The Heat, this lady is on fire.

What you may not know is this: McCarthy is also outperforming her male comedian colleagues and co-stars by millions.

According to comparisons between McCarthy’s recent movies and those of her male counterparts at comparable points in their careers, McCarthy is millions of dollars and one Oscar nomination ahead of male comedians like Will Farrell, Steve Carrell, Jason Bateman, Jonah Hill, and Seth Rogen.

Tell me why women “aren’t funny” again? Really. I’d like to know.

Some perspective: Will Farrel’s first big hit, Night at the Roxbury, grossed $30 million in the US. His first film to break $100 million was Elf in 2003. For McCarthy? Bridesmaids earned $169 million and Identity Theft another $135 million– and those are just her first two major films. The Heat made more money in three days than Night at the Roxbury did in it’s entire theatrical run.

With the numbers the way they are, it’s hard to come up with a solid argument as to why there aren’t more lady-centric comedies out on the silver screen. The fact of the matter is that movies like Bridesmaids and The Heat are not only keeping up with the biggest male-fronted flicks out there, but in many ways they are beating them. Half of the moviegoing audience is female, after all, and it’s about time we were acknowledged as liking more than just Rom-Coms and sappy romance stories. Personally, I would rather see Bridesmaids over The Notebook any day; that’s not to say that there aren’t women who would disagree with me, because I know that there are. The point is that women have been marketed to in a very generalized way, and have been presented with very limited options where they can see themselves represented in a positive fashion. There is as much variety of taste in the female market as there is in the male market, and it’s about time the big-budget films playing in national theaters reflected reality.

With the dearth of successful women in the film world, cases like McCarthy stand out as points of progress. It is incredibly exciting to see a woman (and a woman who is not a size two!) getting out there and really taking the comedy scene by storm. She is blazing the way for more women in comedy to come to the fore and take their place next to their male counterparts on the big screen.

So what’s next for McCarthy? She co-wrote and co-directed a movie with her husband, Ben Falcone. The film is called Tammy, and it just finished up principal production in the last few weeks. Adding screenwriter and director to her resume? Yeah, we can get behind that.

(via Indie Wire)

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  • Zac Shipley

    McCarthy is funny, but the comparisons don’t really do justice. Every comedy actor has a different career trajectory and she paid her dues the same as Farrell or Rogen did.

    The Heat will pass This Is The End within a week or two is my guess.

  • Anonymous

    I hope this proves to the likes of a$$holes like Rex that the thirst for capable female comedians in Hollywood is strong and the double standard should be left at the theatre doors. McCarthy has proven she can stand with the best and I certainly hope she wont be the last of her sex or size to grace the silver screens.

  • Jennifer Cross

    Not trying to burst anyone’s bubble, but Jonah Hill was nominated for an Academy Award for Moneyball:

  • Anonymous

    In all fairness, Night at Roxbury is more a Will Ferrell movie than Bridesmaids is a McCarthy movie. The biggest chunk of the credit for that film’s success should go to Kristen Wiig. The main point of the article, that there is a market for comedies aimed at women, remains true though.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Sandra Bullock is a draw. Kristen Wiig is a draw. Melissa McCarthy was the second worst part of Hangover III.

  • Julianna Condor

    But since the worst part of Hangover III was the fact that it was Hangover III, she’s still better off.

  • Aeryl

    4 years AFTER his first big movie, Superbad, so still a valid point.

  • Aeryl

    I find McCarthy makes it REwatchable, which is a big factor in its success. Wiig’s great, don’t get me wrong, but her tragicomedy arc loses me on rewatch, and McCarthy’s character shines through, though Rebel Wilson’s frozen peas moment is HANDS DOWN the best shot of the whole damn movie.

  • Aeryl

    It already beat This is The End’s opening weekend of $20 million.

  • Aeryl

    I don’t know if I agree that Bullock is the draw. Bullock’s got her history, but at the same time, Bullock’s LAST comedy was All About Steve, which earned less than The Heat opening weekend during it’s entire run. Prior to The Heat was The Proposal, which also starred Ryan Reynolds, and earned $33 million it’s opening weekend, going on to do just as well overseas, earning $300 million total.

    We’ll have to see if The Heat compares to that.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not criticizing McCarthy’s performance, which is nothing short of brilliant and career-defining. I’m just pointing out that Wiig, in addition of playing the main part, is the one who wrote the film, including McCarthy’s scenes. Whether she gave herself the best part or not, the movie started with her.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Good points!

  • Guest

    I think MMcC is

  • Anonymous

    There is a larger issue here. Why are women and minorities comedians who weave problems and humor not given enough screen time? Why is media predominately white male and even when it is not focused on WASPs it still finds people who fit within the WASP standard of beauty aka what producers think will make a profit?

  • Logo Lou

    While I agree with the points in McCarthy’s case, let’s be totally fair here: box office proves ONLY profitability, not whether someone is actually funny. Adam Sandler is proof of that.

  • RapidDescent

    And we’re still trying to forget that whole thing. It’s too painful.

  • Jason Hunt

    Titanic proves box office success has no relation at all to quality of product. As does Justin Bieber.

  • Anonymous

    I’m under the impression that most actors don’t think of the lines themselves. So MMcC has some great comedic timing and sometimes the director lets her inject some improve into the script, but she’s basically great at picking (movie) projects worth her time.

    I will NEVER see a movie just because a particular actor is in it (though some actors have a history of having good taste, so I pay more attention to their film trailers). The story has to be good first and foremost, then the acting and production quality have to meet a certain standard. Isn’t this more or less true for most people?

  • Leila Bridgeman

    It bugged me that the numbers in this article did not account for inflation. For anyone else who is a pedant, I looked up a table of inflation data ( and compared opening weekend data ( By my calculations, Night at the Roxbury made $13.5 million in today’s dollars, Elf made $38.8 million, Bridesmaids made $27.6 million, and Identity Thief made $34.6 million. I think we can only say that McCarthy performs similarly to Farrel. However, I think that is still an achievement and adequate proof that women can be as funny as men.

  • Jim Gordon

    While not a huge fan of her, she’s funnier than Will Ferrell

  • Magic Xylophone

    On the contrary, I went to the movie expecting an ensemble comedy, and was disappointed in how much the story focused on Wiig’s character, while leaving other bridesmaids underdeveloped. I think it was the lack of Wiig’s proven star power at the time that compelled the studio to market it this way. Heck, everyone was calling it “the female Hangover,” despite it actually having a completely different story structure and style.

  • Magic Xylophone

    Funny, I felt completely the opposite about Wilson.

  • Magic Xylophone

    And he should start acting like it!

  • Magic Xylophone

    Worth noting: Reynolds and McCarthy were both really good in The Nines, before either one was a huge star. And McCarthy’s supposed unmarketability was a major plot point.

  • Magic Xylophone

    I disagree.

  • Erica M.

    So was that a passive aggressive way of saying you don’t like McCarthy or any of the movies she’s been in and don’t think she should be getting credit as an awesome, funny, leading lady? Because if so, say it. No one likes vague, random comments.

  • Jason Hunt

    It’s a way of saying shit films can also make money and in no way are an indication of the quality of the movie. I like McCarthy, she’s funny. Bullock is a bore though. I’ve been watching funny women on TV for 30 years. Not sure what a lot of other people have been watching to miss all these great female comediennes.

  • Aeryl

    I LOVED The Nines.

  • Aeryl

    The rest of her role in the movie is “meh” but that part was brilliantly stupid.

  • Aeryl

    Oh, I know that, just voicing my opinion that while Wiig is the central part in the movie and the script, I feel McCarthy’s performance helped push it to the success it had as much as Wiig. And Wiig’s performance is good, I just don’t think it makes it rewatchable, I personally disconnect from it(probably because Annie’s too much like me, LOL)

  • LifeLessons

    McCarthy is GREAT and I am very very very very happy to read her high stats. More Melissa please. :)

  • fengban346

  • Anonymous

    My name says it all. McCarthy is ONLY funny when she utilizes sight gags based upon her being obese and disgusting. We’re laughing at her, not with her. She’s a pig.