Hello and welcome back to Box Office Beat, the column in which I predict the upcoming weekend’s box office grosses. After a series of botched predictions, I truly recovered last weekend, coming within 10 percent of the actuals for openers “Brave” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Let’s hope I can repeat that success this weekend.
By far, the most interesting box office story of the weekend will be “Magic Mike,” Steven Soderbergh’s $5 million-budgeted male-stripper indie that has been effectively marketed by Warner Bros. as a Girl’s Night Out for those who want to gaze at Channing Tatum’s abs. Had you asked most prognosticators three months ago what the movie would make, their answer would have likely been “under $10m,” especially coming off of Soderberg’s bomb “Haywire.” But female audiences have been especially receptive towards the trailers. Further, the popularity of another kinky work, the paperback series “Fifty Shades of Grey,” indicates that they have tapped into the zeitgeist.
Just how big could the opening for “Magic Mike” be? Daredevils are venturing guesses as high as $35m, but I’m considerably more conservative. The last male-stripper movie, Fox Searchlight’s “The Full Monty,” grossed $46m total. Given that “Magic Mike” should make about 50% of its total during its first weekend–the movie is considerably darker than the trailers indicate, meaning word-of-mouth will be mixed at best–its opening should come in at $23 million. That’s a reasonable 2/5 of “Sex and the City,” which targeted the same audience but had a much more established fan-base.
Most prognosticators have “Ted,” a warped comedy by Seth MacFarlane of “Family Guy”-fame, pegged to beat “Magic Mike,” but I have serious doubts. MacFarlane certainly has a following among young people, but so did “South Park”’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and their buzzed-about “Team America: World Police” only ended up opening to $12.1m. Granted an R-rated puppet movie was a tougher sell to wider audiences, but a profane animated teddy bear interacting with live-action adults is still not easy. Furthermore, star Mark Wahlberg has never been the primary protagonist in a comedy (Will Ferrell was undoubtedly the selling point of 2010’s “The Other Guys”). Thus, I think “Ted” is likely to open closest to co-star Mila Kunis’ R-rated rom-com from last summer, “Friends with Benefits.” That’d put it at $18.2 million, which many would consider a disappointment, but it’ll ultimately prove fine for a $50m-budgeted pic that will do good ancillary business.
The movie that’s actually likely to best both “Magic Mike” and “Ted” is Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Witness Protection,” his infamous character’s latest silver-screen venture. The Madea movies have opened all over the map, from $20m to $40m, but I think the phenomenon of non-fans of Perry trying his movies out (which peaked with “Madea Goes to Jail”) has ended, meaning this one is likely to open at the lower-end of his range. A repeat of the filmmaker’s last Madea effort, “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” seems entirely possible. That would mean a still-strong weekend of $25.1 million.
Lastly, there’s “People Like Us,” an unexpected foray into personal filmmaking for Alex Kurtzman, the writer of big budget action films like “Star Trek” and “Transformers.” Given the relatively large size of their ad buys, distributor Walt Disney has faith in the movie’s potential, a presumption supported by the positive reviews. But even though they’re advertising “People Like Us” a lot, I get the sense that they don’t really know how to sell it. They appear to be targeting the Nicholas Sparks romance crowd, but the movie is about the relationship between siblings, not lovers, making the tone of the trailers somewhat awkward. Disney has put on lots of word-of-mouth screenings, which should help the movie some, but I get the sense that if “People Like Us” ever finds an audience, it will be over the course of its run, not on opening weekend. It would be a surprise if the opening figure surpassed $6.2 million.
My prediction of what the full top 10 will look like:
- “Brave” … $34.2m -48.4%
- “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection” … $25.1m
- “Magic Mike” … $23.0m
- “Ted” … $18.2m
- “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” … $11.2m -43.2%
- “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” … $7.3m -55.2%
- “People Like Us” … $6.2m
- “The Avengers” … $5.0m -30.3%
- “Prometheus” … $4.9m -50.5%
- “Snow White and the Huntsman” … $4.8m -40.6%