Where Did the Boys of Summer Go for Channing Tatum’s ‘Magic Mike’ Sequel?

Warner Bros. stripper tale “XXL,” co-starring Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello, drew an audience that was 96 percent female — and underwhelmed with $12 million at box office

Last Updated: July 6, 2015 @ 1:28 PM

The box-office numbers for “Magic Mike XXL” — which took in $12 million over the weekend — were underwhelming except for one: the audience was 96 percent female.

The low-budget Warner Bros. sequel about male strippers featured hunky stars Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello and Adam Rodriguez doing their groove thing in thongs, so it’s not a shock it played strongly with women — but 96 percent?

“The only movie I recall with numbers like that was ‘Sex and the City’,” said Dan Fellman, who heads domestic distribution for Warner Bros., the studio responsible “XXL” as well as 2008’s SATC release — which drew an opening weekend audience that was 85 percent female.

It’s not surprising that the subject matter in “Magic Mike XXL” and the cast might not be much of a draw for straight men. But 2012’s “Magic Mike” lured an audience that was more than a quarter — 27 percent — male. Fast forward three years and just 4 out of 100 “XXL” moviegoers who turned out for the sequel were men.

Is it possible that the Warner Bros. marketing team did too good a job of hitting their primary demographic target?

“If your movie is the cinematic equivalent of going to a strip club, then you run the danger of alienating male audiences,” said Dave Karger, Fandango’s chief correspondent, “and you have to wonder if, given these numbers, the marketing and hype went too far.”

The “XXL” campaign primarily targeted women with both broadcast and digital ads running across female-centric TV shows and site. But “XXL” did target a gay male demographic including a “Magic Mike XXL” float in last month’s West Hollywood’s Gay Pride Parade on which Tatum, Bomer and Rodriguez danced and rode. Bomer, who is openly gay, also did a cover story for Out Magazine and there were some other outreach as well.

However, despite a marketing campaign that, at least to a degree targeted gay males, it didn’t connect with them or straight guys. Timing may have been a problem. The “Magic Mike” sequel opened on Wednesday, ahead of the July 4th holiday, which is a major social event in cosmopolitan areas with many East Coast gay males leaving town for the weekend for the Hamptons, P-Town, Fire Island and alternately on the West Coast many head for Laguna Beach. “XXL” underperformed on both coasts.

“This may be a gross generalization, but on a holiday like the Fourth, most gay guys aren’t in movie theaters at all,” Karger told TheWrap. “With the weather nice, I think they chose to be at the beach or out having fun. But it’s a matter of timing, and I’m certain there is a gay audience for this film and they’ll come out in subsequent weeks.”

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Women driving box office hits is nothing new, of course.

“Sex and the City,” was based on the hit HBO TV series and many of show’s female fans made a night of seeing the movie and came in groups. They kept coming and coming as a matter of fact, and “Sex and the City” went on to become one of the first blockbusters hits driven almost exclusively by women. The big screen version of “SATC” took in $415 million globally.

“Bridesmaids,” “The Hunger Games” and “Frozen” were also female-centric. When “Fifty Shades of Grey” broke out with its record box-office debut in February, the audience was 68 percent female.

“We had to decide early on if we were going to let men in the theaters,” Universal’s distribution chief Nick Carpou joked prior to the R-rated bondage romance’s release.

“Magic Mike XXL” had little in common with “SATC” or “Fifty Shades of Grey,” other than the female audience skew, sex as a subject and an R-rating. Those were “event” films, and this was a sequel, one that had lost two high-profile members of the original film’s cast — Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer — as well as the director Steven Soderbergh, who was replaced by Gregory Jacobs.

“XXL” was never going to sneak up on anyone, because the original was one of 2012’s biggest box-office hits, taking in $167 million — on a $7 million budget. The studio knew “XXL” was unlikely to catch lightning in a bottle the way that the original had, but with a budget of less than $15 million, it didn’t have to for the film to make money. Despite the soft opening, it still could, but it will be a lot easier if more males — gay or straight — find the film.

But Karger maintained that “Magic Mike XXL” will have some summer box-office legs and expects a respectable second outing.

“I’m still bullish because it’s a fun party film that crosses racial lines and can appeal to blacks and Latinos as well as white audiences,” he said. “It had a great first day, it got a great ‘A-‘ CinemaScore and I think people will definitely come out for the second weekend.”

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