Weekend Box Office (June 29 - July 1, 2012)
THIS WEEKEND Four new films shove their way into theaters on Friday trying to grab some North American business before Tuesday's arrival of the webslinger. Leading the charge are a pair of R-rated entries - the stripper saga Magic Mike with the red hot Channing Tatum and the politically incorrect buddy comedy Ted with Mark Wahlberg. Meanwhile, Tyler Perry targets his audience with his latest tale Madea's Witness Protection and Chris Pine stars in the feel-good drama People Like Us. With so many new titles splitting up the pie, the animated champ Brave will try to keep its box office crown.
The year of Channing continues. Warner Bros. unleashes its male stripper flick Magic Mike which has been building buzz and has now turned into an event film for young women. All lovers of man candy will be coming out, many in groups, propelling the R-rated drama to muscular numbers this weekend. Box office heavyweight Tatum stars and produces becoming the anchor here but is also joined by an ensemble cast including Matthew McConaughey who will help draw in more customers too. Magic Mike offers its target audience a safe way to be naughty for a while without ending up with oil, grease, and sweat all over their clothes at the end of the night.
The marketing push has been impressive and excitement has been building. If the film can tap into the Sex and the City crowd with a fun summer offering, it will be in great shape. Tatum scored back-to-back hits earlier this year with The Vow and 21 Jump Street and will try to become that rare star to anchor three $100M+ grossers within a six-month period. And none are big-budget special effects vehicles. Magic Mike has breakout potential, but it may also be very front-loaded. Steven Soderbergh's latest has attracted good reviews too which can't hurt. Opening in more than 2,900 locations, Magic Mike could debut with about $30M this weekend.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane makes his movie debut directing the R-rated comedy Ted and provides the voice of the title character, a teddy bear that came to life because of a lonely boy's wish. The Universal release stars Mark Wahlberg as the boy all grown up and Mila Kunis plays his long-time girlfriend. Certainly the legions of fans of Family Guy will take interest especially since the humor is in the same league, only without the bleeps. Appeal to adult women is actually ample because of the human leads, but opening opposite Magic Mike will take much of the potential. Ted will need word-of-mouth to be good in order to catch them in the second week. New releases and holdovers will not provide too much direct competition for young adult men so it should be able to reach its core crowd. Reviews have been fairly positive. Jumping into more than 3,000 theaters, Ted may collect about $24M.
A North-South culture clash is back, this time with no presidential vampire hunters, in Tyler Perry's latest movie Madea's Witness Protection. The PG-13 pic about the popular matriarch learning how to deal with white people will play to the director's usual fan base although even the Perry faithful are losing interest in his rapid-fire output of content. The filmmaker's last picture Good Deeds suffered one of his worst openings ever with just $15.6M while his last Madea flick Big Happy Family deflated down to $25.1M last year. Witness seems to lack some of the buzz of Perry's offerings from just a couple of years ago as a flood of product has made his stories less special. Some fans now find his new films skipable. Debuting in the usual 2,000+ theaters, Lionsgate's Madea's Witness Protection might take in around $18M this weekend.
Being the fourth child coming into the box office world on any given weekend is never easy. Disney and DreamWorks hope that their new drama People Like Us starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks will fight its way to the table for some scraps this weekend. The PG-13 film about a man who discovers a sister he never knew existed will appeal to mature adults looking for an inspirational and uplifting story which does not involve stripping. Women will make up the core audience but with Magic Mike opening at the same time, People will face an uphill battle. Plus it will have a hard time proving that this is not a film that can be equally enjoyed at home a few months from now at a lower price point. The Blind Side phenomenon doesn't happen all the time. Reviews have been positive but starpower is questionable as neither lead is a true box office anchor. With heavy competition, People Like Us opens in 2,055 locations and may settle for a modest debut with about $8M.
Disney hopes to keep control of the number one spot with its latest Pixar offering Brave which earned high praise from audiences last weekend. Mid-week sales have stayed strong with Monday and Tuesday bringing in just under $9M each day which is huge for a non-sequel toon. The new releases will offer nothing new for kids so competition will be light. Plus the remainder of children will now be out of school making for a more available audience. Look for Brave to slide by about 40% to roughly $40M boosting the ten-day cume to a robust $140M with a lucrative holiday week still to come.
Madagascar 3 held its own against the debut for a rival 3D animated title. Another 40% drop may give Paramount and DreamWorks about $12M for a cume of $180M. Fox's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter didn't win over many fans last weekend and Ted will steal away plenty of young men. Look for a 55% tumble to around $7M for $30M in ten days.
Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.
For a review of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter visit The Chief Report.
LAST YEAR Robots went 3D and audiences responded as Transformers: Dark of the Moon ruled the long Independence Day holiday weekend with a colossal $115.9M over the four-day frame and a stellar $180.7M in its first 6.5 days. The Paramount juggernaut went on to collect $352.4M domestically and a jaw-dropping $1.1 billion worldwide making it the biggest yet in the franchise. Disney and Pixar saw their animated sequel Cars 2 fall heavily to $31.6M over four days with Sony's comedy Bad Teacher following in third with $17.3M. Former box office superstars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts joined forces for the Universal dud Larry Crowne which debuted in fourth with $16.1M in four days heading to a disappointing $35.6M final. Paramount's Super 8 rounded out the top five with $9.5M in its fourth round as solid buzz allowed it to hold up well again.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: June 28, 2012 at 12:35PM ET
Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.