Mark Wahlberg stars in Seth MacFarlane's "Ted."
Universal Pictures
Mark Wahlberg stars in Seth MacFarlane's "Ted."

Story highlights

Raunchy comedy "Ted" earned an impressive $54.1 million its debut weekend

"Magic Mike" grossed a tremendous $39.2 million its opening weekend

Disney-Pixar's "Brave" dropped in its second weekend to a still-strong $34 million —  

Who had more money thrown at him this weekend? A bong-smoking teddy bear with a bad attitude or Channing Tatum in a sparkly G-string?

Surprisingly, the stuffed animal proved the victor! Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s raunchy comedy “Ted,” which stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, earned an impressive $54.1 million out of 3,239 theaters during its debut weekend – the third-best debut ever for an R rated comedy behind the openings of “The Hangover Part II” ($85.9 million) and “Sex and the City” ($57 million) – and the best debut ever for an original comedic storyline.

What went right? According to Universal’s President of Domestic Distribution Nikki Rocco, “The film. The marketing. The advertising – that’s what went right!”

During a phone call with EW this morning, Rocco praised “Ted’s” advertising campaign kick-off in April, when MacFarlane appeared in a 90-second TV spot during an episode of “Family Guy” and pointed audiences to “Ted’s” extra-buzzy red-band trailer online. Clearly, much of the loyal “Family Guy” audience turned out for the opening weekend.

“It’s been a while since an original, zany comedy has been on the marketplace,” says Rocco. “Everybody likes something fresh, something new.”

Indeed, they did. “Ted’s” debut frame easily surpassed those of other recent R-rated hits like “21 Jump Street” ($36.1 million), “Horrible Bosses” ($28.3 million), “Bad Teacher” ($31.6 million), and Wahlberg’s own PG-13 flick “The Other Guys” ($35.5 million). Each of those films exhibited substantial legs at the box office and crossed $100 million domestically. Given “Ted’s” decent reviews and healthy “A-” CinemaScore grade , it should too.

Universal just may have a $200 million hit on its hands – great news considering the film, which was produced by Media Rights Capital, cost just $50 million. Men made up most of the crowds. According to Universal, Ted’s audience was 56% male, while 52% of moviegoers were 30 or older.

You know which movie’s audience wasn’t predominantly male? “Magic Mike’s.” The endlessly written about stripper film, which is partially inspired by Channing Tatum’s real-life stripper past, grossed a tremendous $39.2 million in its opening weekend from audiences which were 73% female.

The result is far higher than anyone in the industry would have predicted a month ago, but “Mike quickly snowballed into a “Sex and the City”-type release and became a must-see “event” for groups of women in the mood for something other than “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

“This is what the business is about,” says Warner Brothers’ President of Domestic Distribution Dan Fellman. “There are surprises sometimes, and when you get a sleeper, it’s great.”

For Warner Brothers, “Magic Mike” was already a winner on its opening day, when it grossed a jaw-dropping $19.4 million. The film was independently financed for $7 million by Steven Soderbergh, Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey; Warner Brothers then paid $7 million to acquire “Magic Mike” from Soderbergh, with whom they often collaborate, and agreed to distribute.

Of course, advertising and distribution costs exist as well, but according to Fellman, “Everybody is making a lot of money.”

While “Magic Mike” did score a sizzling debut, the drama also proved incredibly front-loaded. (And no, I’m not talking about Joe Manganiello’s character Big Dick Richie.) After “Mike’s” $19.4 million opening day, it fell by a whopping 42 percent on Saturday to $11.4 million and then a more-standard 26% on Sunday to $8.4 million.

These declines point to a truncated run at the box office — as does the moderate “B” CinemaScore grade from audiences, who may have been expecting an upbeat romp from “Magic Mike,” which is actually quite a bit darker than advertising suggests. Thus, only time will tell whether the film passes $100 million domestically.

Still, “Magic Mike” shouldn’t be viewed as anything but a huge winner – especially for its star, Channing Tatum, whose banner year continues. Following the success of “The Vow” ($125 million), and “21 Jump Street” ($138.3 million), Tatum’s appeal has earned him another smash, and no actor in Hollywood has a higher stock than him right now. Maybe it’s a good thing that “G.I. Joe” got pushed….

Last weekend’s chart champion, Disney-Pixar’s $185 million effort “Brave,” dropped by 49% in its second weekend to a still-strong $34 million – good for third place. The Scottish adventure raced past the $100 million mark on its eighth day of release and has now earned $131.7 million after two weekends.

A good comparison for “Brave” is another Pixar favorite “Wall-E,” which also dropped by 49% in its second weekend and had earned $127.2 million at the same point in its run. “Wall-E” finished with $223 million domestically, and that seems like a probable total for “Brave” as well.

In fourth, “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection” started with a potent $26.4 million from 2,161 theaters – a bit ahead of the director’s last Madea film, “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” which debuted to $25.1 million in 2011.

“Witness Protection’s” small uptick is an encouraging sign for the cross-dressing franchise, which was beginning to show signs of age when “Madea’s Big Happy Family” earned “just” $53.3 million, a full 41% less than 2009′s “Madea Goes To Jail,” which grossed $90.5 million. Audiences issued the picture, which cost $20 million, an “A-” CinemaScore grade.

Rounding out the Top 5 is Dreamworks’ $145 million sequel “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” which has held up quite well in the face of “Brave” over the past two weeks. “Madagascar 3” dropped 40% this weekend to $11.8 million and has now grossed $180 million after four frames.

The zoo animal comedy has stampeded up the box office faster than either of its predecessors – at the same point in its run, “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” had earned $159.1 million. “Europe’s Most Wanted” is now poised to be the highest domestic earner in the franchise, and it will soon outdo the original “Madagascar’s” $193.6 million haul.

Down in tenth place, Disney’s family drama “People Like Us” flopped almost as badly as last weekend’s “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.” Despite overall positive reviews, “People Like Us” grossed a measly $4.3 million from 2,055 theaters. Good thing the Chris Pine/Elizabeth Banks drama, which earned a “B+” CinemaScore grade, carries a light $16 million budget.

Overall, the box office is demonstrating remarkable health. Without a giant action movie in the Top 5, the current lineup was still able to set a June box office record with a cumulative gross well above $200 million. (I’ll add in exact figures when they become available.)

Some are saying that the heat wave sweeping across the U.S. is driving people into cool, air-conditioned theaters, and in a poll posted yesterday, 59% of readers voted that the heat does, in fact, make them more likely to go to the theater. It should also be noted that neither of the top two films are in 3-D.

1. Ted – $54.1 million
2. Magic Mike – $39.2 million
3. Brave – $34.0 million
4. Madea’s Witness Protection – $26.4 million
5. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – $11.8 million

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