"Ted" stars a potty-mouthed teddy bear voiced by Seth MacFarlane. (Universal Pictures )
"Magic Mike" was stripped of the top spot at the box office by a debaucherous teddy bear, as "Ted" dominated ticket sales at the multiplex this weekend.
"Ted," an R-rated raunchfest from "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, debuted with a strong $54.1 million, according to an estimate from distributor Universal Pictures. "Magic Mike," loosely based on star Channing Tatum's own experience as a stripper, also overperformed with a robust opening of $39.2 million.
Meanwhile, Tyler Perry's "Madea's Witness Protection" — the filmmaker's first movie to hit theaters during the summer — launched with a solid $26.4 million. But the adult drama "People Like Us," starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks, flopped upon its debut with a weak $4.3 million.
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There has never before been a weekend in which two R-rated films grossed more than $21 million apiece, but "Ted" and "Magic Mike" managed the feat. Each film capitalized on a different audience: "Ted" appealed to men, as 56% of its crowd was male. And "Magic Mike," which also features beefcakey stars such as Matthew McConaughey and Joe Manganiello, lured in a 73% female audience.
"Ted," which stars Mark Wahlberg as a man whose best friend is his potty-mouthed teddy bear, was well-liked by moviegoers, who assigned it an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore. With strong word of mouth, the film should end up being a much-needed hit for Universal Pictures, which is coming off the moderate performance of "Snow White and the Huntsman" and the disastrous box-office showing for the pricey "Battleship." "Ted" was acquired by Universal and Relativity Media, but was financed by Media Rights Capital for $50 million.
Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike" earned the best critical reviews of any of the weekend's new releases, and audiences seemed happy with it as well, assigning the movie a B+ grade. Even if the film were not to do solid business in the coming weeks, its already a win for Warner Bros., which acquired the independently financed $7-million production.
Dan Fellman, the studio's president of domestic distribution, said the film played like its 2008 film "Sex and the City," reeling in large groups of women to theaters on Friday evening. Part of the movie's allure was newly minted box-office draw Tatum, who has appeared in two hits this year: The romantic drama "The Vow" and the comedy "21 Jump Street."
“He’s obviously got a good fan base and he has a lot of sex appeal,” Fellman said. “Certainly, he’s made a name for himself, and we’re very glad we’ve got him as part of our family.”
Perry's "Madea's Witness Protection" is the seventh film from the prolific director-writer-actor to star his cross-dressing feisty grandmother character. The movie marked the fourth-highest debut ever for Perry, and came in slightly above the $25.1-million debut of his previous Madea film, last year's "Madea's Big Happy Family.">
"Witness Protection" is the first of Perry's films starring Madea to feature more ethnically diverse cast, including white actors such as Eugene Levy and Tom Arnold. As a result of the broader ensemble, Perry's latest movie appealed to a 71% African American audience, below the 80% figure for the group that his past films have attracted. The picture, which earned an A- CinemaScore, appealed to older female moviegoers and did well in cities like Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Although "People Like Us" got off to a disappointing start, it didn't cost DreamWorks Studios much to produce. The movie, which is being released by Walt Disney Studios, had a budget of $16 million.
The film stars Pine as a man whose father dies and leaves him with $150,000 to give to a long-lost sister, played by Elizabeth Banks. The directorial debut from "Transformers" screenwriter Alex Kurtzman, "People Like Us" did best with an older audience — 58% of whom were over the age of 35.
The movie, which received a B+ CinemaScore, did especially well in the heartland, selling 152% more tickets than usual in Salt Lake City. Dave Hollis, Disney's executive vice president of distribution, said he was hopeful that adult moviegoers would discover the film in the coming weeks.
“This movie appeals to an audience that doesn’t always rush out to see a movie on its first night,” Hollis said. “This was always meant to be a counterprogramming choice for a more discerning adult audience, and for them to have an intelligent option seemed important.”