Mark Wahlberg and his childhood teddy bear in "Ted." (Tippett Studio, Universal…)
"Magic Mike" was undressed by"Ted"at the box office this weekend, as the movie about a debauched teddy bear dominated ticket sales at the multiplex.
"Ted," an R-rated raunchfest from "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, opened with a strong $54.1 million, according to an estimate from distributor Universal Pictures. "Magic Mike," loosely based on star Channing Tatum's 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 opening 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 movie capitalized on a different audience: "Ted" appealed to men — 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.
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.
The Steven Soderbergh-directed "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 doesn't do solid business in the coming weeks, it's already a win forWarner 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 release "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 opening for Perry and came in slightly above the $25.1-million start of his previous Madea film, last year's "Madea's Big Happy Family."
Lionsgate's general sales manager David Spitz said the studio felt confident releasing "Witness Protection" during the summer against larger-budget titles because of Perry's fan base.
"Our strategy to open a Tyler Perry film in the summer included the fact that we hoped his loyal fans would turn out, and they did, along with new ones," Spitz said.
"Witness Protection" is the first of Perry's Madea films to feature a more ethnically diverse cast, including white actors such as Eugene Levy and Tom Arnold. The picture, which earned an A- CinemaScore, appealed to older female moviegoers and did well in cities including Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Although "People Like Us" got off to a disappointing start, it didn't cost DreamWorks Studios much to produce. The movie, 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" received a B+ CinemaScore and did best with an older audience — 58% of its viewers were older than 35.
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."
In limited release, Fox Searchlight's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" grossed a robust $169,236. Playing in four theaters, that amounted to a per-location average of $42,309 — the third-highest average of the year, behind Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" and Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love." The critically beloved drama, about a girl trying to learn to be self-sufficient in a Louisiana bayou as her father dies, has scored top prizes at major film festivals such as Cannes.