Movie audiences were ready for some raunch, as R-rated comedies "Ted" and "Magic Mike" debuted explosively Friday at the U.S. box office.
Universal's "Ted," Seth MacFarlane's tale of a talking teddy bear, made $20.2 million Friday and has a good shot at a $51 million weekend. Warner Bros.' "Magic Mike," Channing Tatum's take on male strippers inspired by his early days as an exotic dancer, was nearly as hot, rolling to $19.4 million Friday and putting itself on pace for than $45 million.
"Family Guy" creator MacFarlane's feature film bow "Ted," starring Mark Wahlberg, far exceeded expectations, which were in the $25 million-$30 million range for the weekend. And word-of-mouth should help on Saturday and Sunday, as audiences gave it an "A-" CinemaScore.
The same is true for Tatum's "Magic Mike," which went into the weekend with similar expectations, and garnered a "B" CinemaScore from its heavily female-skewing audiences. "Magic Mike," which came with just a $7 million price tag, was a hit going in for Warner Bros., which probably made that in pre-sales.
Family fare "Brave" and "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" have dominated for the past three weeks, but audiences were plainly ready for something different. Disney's Pixar "Brave," which was No. 1 last week, managed $10.5 million Friday and is looking at roughly $35 million for what is shaping up as a booming pre-July 4 weekend.
Lionsgate's "Tyler Perry's Madea Witness Protection" did $10 million in its first day of release and is on track for $24 million. The weekend's other wide release was the DreamWorks drama 'People Like Us." Writer Alex Kurtzman's directing debut failed to ignite, managing just $1.5 million Friday, which projects to a $4 million weekend.
Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom" did $1.7 million in its first day of wide release, which pencils out to a $5.5 million for the three days.
Some holdover films struggled Friday. Fox's "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" did $1.9 million and is looking at $6 million for the three days. WB's "Rock of Ages" and Sony's "That's My Boy," both in their third week, took in less than a million dollars.
In the specialty market, Fox Searchlight's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" made the most of its limited debut, rolling up $51,640 from four theaters, for a glossy $12,910 per-screen average.
There could be a lot of couples splitting up and then meeting back in the lobby after the movie this weekend.
Both Warner Bros.' "Magic Mike" and Universal's "Ted" are tracking very strongly -- with one gender. Channing Tatum's male strippers appear to have the female market locked, though current box office champ "Brave" could factor in. And Seth MacFarlane's potty-mouthed teddy bear looks very big with men.
Whether either will be able to dislodge "Brave" from its perch remains to be seen. Disney's Pixar tale of the highland lass with the dead-eye bow is still the analysts' pick for No. 1, with a weekend of around $33 million projected. "Magic Mike" is looking at around $29 million, "Ted" in the $26 million range and "Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection" will do more than $20 million say the analysts, who admit it's a fluid landscape.
"It's a real race this weekend," Boxoffice.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino told TheWrap. "The top four films could wind up in any order and I wouldn't be shocked.
MacFarlane wrote, directed and voices the title character in "Ted," his off-center tale of a man and his teddy bear, who comes to life as a result of childhood wish. Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Joel McHale and Giovanni Ribisi star. Universal has the fantasy comedy in 3,000 theaters. The production budget on the R-rated comedy was $50 million, with Media Rights Capital financing.
"We're confident because of the tracking, the high awareness level and because there is a track record of films like this doing well," Nikki Rocco, Universal Pictures domestic distribution chief, told TheWrap Thursday.
The numbers back her up. "Bad Teacher," "Horrible Bosses" and "21 Jump Street" were all recent R-rated comedies that opened between $26 million and $36 million and went on to top $100 million. Universal would love to see the film match the performance of one of its own films, last summer's "Bridesmaids," which opened at $26 million and built steadily to $169 million.
"We think it's going to have some staying power," said Rocco, who is convinced that "Ted" audiences won't be totally men's clubs. "Our tracking shows young women are interested in this film."
Critics think it's pretty good. Seventy percent of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are favorable and 63 percent on MovieReviewIntelligence are positive. Metacritic gives it a 61 rating.
Steven Soderbergh ("Contagion") directs "Magic Mike," the tale of a male stripper teaching a young up-and-comer the ropes, from a script by Reid Carolin. Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer and Olivia Munn star. Carolin and Tatum are the producers of the movie, done on a $7 million budget. WB will open it on 2,900 screens.
The film is tracking extremely well with women, and social media mentions and its tracking have surged over the past few days. As of Thursday, "Magic Mike" was accounting for 61 percent of pre-sales at online ticket broker Fandango. Tellingly, a whopping 98 percent of the respondents to a survey question about the movie on the site were women.
Critics have responded well to the film. Seventy-three percent of reviews on MovieReviewIntelligence and 78 percent of Rotten Tomatoes' are positive, and Metacritic gives it a 71 rating.
The critics haven't seen Lionsgate's "Tyler Perry's Witness Protection," but that shouldn't matter. This is the fifth installment in the Madea franchise and the previous four films were weren't critical faves, but they've opened to an average of $29 million.
Perry produced, wrote and directed the comedy, which co-stars Eugene Levy, Denise Richards and Tom Arnold. Lionsgate has the film, which is tracking well with African-Americans and skewing female, on 2,000 screens.
The weekend's other wide release is "People Like Us" from DreamWorks.
The movie marks the directing debut of Alex Kurtzman, best known for writing, with his partner Roberto Orci, blockbuster fare including the first two "Transformers" movies and "Star Trek." The latter film's Captain Kirk, Chris Pine, stars with Elizabeth Banks and Michelle Pfeifer in this adult drama about a man tasked with delivering $150,000 of his deceased father's fortune to the sister he has never met.
The notices have been mixed. While 72 percent of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes have been positive, just 59 percent on MovieReviewIntelligence are favorable and its Metacritic rating is 53. Disney is releasing it on 2,000 screens.
Focus Features is going wide with "Moonrise Kingdom," Wes Anderson's quirky tale of tween love. It will add 850 theaters this week, for a total of 1,285. It's already made more than $13 million.
Two films yet to open in the U.S. next week are gearing up.
Fox International is releasing "Ice Age: Continental Drift" in 49 foreign countries this weekend, ahead of its domestic bow July 13. It's on about 8,500 screens, 4,200 of which will be 3D screens, and in five of the top 12 markets, including Australia, Brazil, France, Mexico and Spain.
And waiting in the wings to open with midnight shows on Monday night is what is expected to be one of the summer's mega-hits, "The Amazing Spider-Man." Sony plans a massive rollout for Spidey, at more than 4,000 locations.