Box Office Recap: Ted on Top, Numbers Surge Across the Board

Things are looking bright in Hollywood, and not just because of pre-holiday fireworks displays. Seth McFarlane’s “Ted” is sitting pretty on the top of the charts after grossing $54.1 million, which makes it the biggest weekend ever for an R-rated original comedy (it beat out “The Hangover’s” $44.98 million debut) as well as the eighth best R-rated debut ever. The film, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and McFarlane himself, is the “Family Guy” creator’s first foray into feature films (how ’bout that for for alliteration?), and its success has many wondering why it took studios so long to give McFarlane a chance at the helm of a Hollywood project.

But “Ted” wasn’t the only triumph at the box office, as numbers surged across the board. The weekend’s top 12 films raked in a combined total of approximately $197 million, the highest weekend total ever in the month of June.

So how do we account for all this success? Well, two other new releases, Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper dramedy “Magic Mike” and Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Witness Protection” had some relatively massive openings of their own, exceeding expectations and coming in second and fourth place with $39 million and $25 million, respectively.

It shouldn’t be discounted that a good portion of the summer’s blockbusters have targeted younger audiences. Just look this weekend’s third and fifth place finishers, “Brave” and “Madagascar 3,” each debuted at number one. But after animated films have ruled the box office for three straight weeks, the simultaneously successful releases of the R-rated “Ted” and “Magic Mike” serve as a good reminder that adults go to the movies too, and not just to sit in the AC and keep the damn kids quiet for 90 minutes.

I’m pleased to say “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” endured a larger than usual 63 percent slide this weekend, falling to sixth place and grossing just $6 million. The film’s now grossed a cumulative total of $29 million, and likely won’t make it past the $40 million mark, well below its budget of $69 million. Hopefully, studios will learn to leave our great historical figures alone from now on, unless Daniel Day-Lewis is playing them (“Lincoln” is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2012), or at the very least to leave vampires out of the picture.

Meanwhile, Wes Anderson’sMoonrise Kingdom” came back into view after falling out of the top ten last weekend. The film finally saw a nationwide release, adding another 459 theaters, giving it a total of 854, and came in seventh place with just under $5 million.

The weekend’s soft release was “People Like Us,” a drama starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks. Early estimates had the film in tenth place, but more recent reports show it falling into eleventh. “The Avengers” took its place, moving up to round out the top ten. It’s likely to be the last time we’ll see those particular superheros there, but comic book fans need not fear. Peter Parker’s being rebooted, “The Amazing Spider-Man” comes out on July 3.

Here are the results for this weekend’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume

1. Ted, 1/3,239, Universal, $54.1 million.
2. Magic Mike, 1/2,930, Warner Bros., $39.155 million.
3. Brave, 2/4,164, Buena Vista, $34.011 million, $131.685 million.
4. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection, 1/2,161, $26.35 million.
5. Madagascar 3, 4/3,715, Paramount/Dreamworks, $11.815 million, $180.012 million.
6. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, 2/3,109, $6 million, $29.034 million.
7. Moonrise Kingdom, 6/854, Focus, $4.926 million, $18.406 million.
8. Prometheus, 4/1,951, Fox, $4.921 million, $118.262 million.
9. Snow White and the Huntsman, 5/2,337, Universal, $4.498 million, $145.591 million.
10. The Avengers, 9/1,757, Disney/Marvel Studios, $4.421 million, $606.505 million.

  

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Box Office Preview: Board Games, Pregnancy, and something like ‘Borat’ 2


The Dictator

At this point if you don’t know what you’re getting walking into a Sacha Baron Cohen movie, you’ve probably never seen a Sacha Baron Cohen movie. That’s not to say “The Dictator” won’t be funny, but if you’re expecting 100 percent originality, you might want to look elsewhere.

“The Dictator” is the story of a North African, you guessed it, dictator, who’s called to answer for his crimes in front of the UN in New York. Believe it or not, it’s loosely based on a romance novel allegedly written by Saddam Hussein. Yeah, that Saddam Hussein, and yeah, romance. Anyway, when John C. Reilly strips him of his beard, nobody believes he’s a dictator anymore, so he has to find his way working in a food co-op with Anna Faris.

Fish out of water on the mean streets of America? Sounds an awful lot like “Borat,” but if it’s funny, who cares? I guess that raises the question, is “The Dictator” funny? The film is sitting at a 63 percent on the Tomatometer, so it’s probably more “Borat” (good) than “Bruno” bad. One thing the film has to set it apart from Baron Cohen’s previous work is that it’s not in his trademark interview-heavy mockumentary format. This probably means “The Dictator” sacrifices the more outrageous comedy that comes from duping public figures and nobodies alike for a semi-coherent plot.


Battleship

Now “Transformers” I get, theoretically anyway. There are characters, good guys and bad guys. It’s shit, but it makes sense, and more importantly it had Megan Fox. But a movie based on Battleship, the board game?

Apparently “Battleship” has a plot, but I’ll leave that explanation for Jason in his Bullz-Eye review. I imagine there are ships involved. Anyway, this movie looks like a turd. It’s at a 35 percent on the Tomatometer, and the consensus over there is that the film is “too loud, poorly written, and formulaic to justify its expense.” Jason’s viewpoint was a bit more optimistic:

But while the film does feel a little bit too much like a Michael Bay explosion-rama at times, to my surprise, it works remarkably well as a mindless piece of popcorn entertainment. It won’t wow you in any way, but “Battleship” knows that it’s big, dumb summer fun, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything more.

If that’s the case, so be it. But I have a question, and I’m being completely serious here: what is the world of Hollywood writing coming to when we’re getting movies based on 70-year old board games? What’s next, the Monopoly man going on a Godzilla-like rampage through the streets of Tokyo? Terrorists knocking down buildings with a voodoo Jenga tower? Thank you Screencrush for the ideas, but sad as it may be “Battleship” is a real thing, so there’s no more time for mockery, moving on.


What to Expect When You’re Expecting

It’s a romantic comedy, so already we know what we’re getting into here, don’t we? There will be cliches, love, a second act rife with conflict, and ultimately, a happy ending. But every once in a while a movie comes along that breaks the mold, throwing all those banal stereotypes into a pot and coming out with something great. This is not that movie. Let me repeat again, because I know eyes can wander over a word or two: this is not that movie.

That fact is especially unfortunate when you look at the film’s star-studded cast, which includes Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911!”), Rodrigo Santoro (like 4 episodes of “Lost”), as well as the recent success of “Think Like a Man,” which was also based on a self-help book.

If I could guess, and I can, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” tells the story of a number of couples, each with their own relationship problems centering around pregnancy and child-rearing. It really doesn’t matter, this movie is at a 23 percent on the Tomatometer. As such, you should avoid it like the plague.

If you’re looking for a recommendation this weekend, I’ll say “The Avengers,” just like last week and the week before, and yes, even if you’ve already seen it. Now, last week I also recommended “Dark Shadows” to big Johnny Depp or Tim Burton fans. The same goes here, “The Dictator” is sure to be enjoyable for fans of Sacha Baron Cohen’s work.

  

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Weekend box office: There’s no way other way to say it, Harry Potter is a lot more popular than Russell Crowe

So, folks, here’s your key to box office success: fund the kind of European-styled welfare state that would drive Tea Party activists into a state of complete hysterics, if they weren’t already there. With impoverished moms actually having a modest amount of free time to themselves because they don’t have to worry about their children starving or being unable to go the doctor and your society as a whole benefiting from improved physical and mental health, wait for one of those moms with a literary bent to come up with a once-in-a-century sensation of a book series. Hopefully, it will be aimed at a young audience with time to watch each movie several times. Then, film it — competently, will suffice, no particular need for brilliance — making sure, as Anthony D’Alessandro reminds us, to avoid the need for a momentum-killing reboot by recruiting strong and likable leads you can continue with for the entire length of the franchise. Repeat.

Daniel Radcliffe can probably afford better mirrors than this That’s pretty much the formula for the massive success of the Harry Potter film franchise. So, as stated Thursday eve, the question for the first weekend of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One” was always whether it would have a great opening or the greatest opening of all time. Well, it did have the greatest opening of all time…for a Harry Potter film. To be specific, according to Box Office Mojo, it earned an estimated $125 million, still well shy of the current opening weekend record holder, “The Dark Knight,” which grossed over $158 million on its mega-huge opening weekend.

On the other hand, that is a series best, significantly well north of the $102 million and change earned by “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” five years back. Also, as the saying goes, $125 million here and $125 million there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money. The emotionally rather dark-hued installment (I haven’t seen it, but I’ve read the book, and I can only imagine) also earned the highest per-screen average this week, a rather unusual achievement for a super-wide release like this, earning a whopping $30,332 average in over 4,100 theaters. That’s a nice infusion into our failing economy, as well, even if we have to share it with billionaire ex-welfare mom J.K. Rowling and a bunch of other Brits because of that whole welfare state thing I propagandized for up top. Well, don’t worry because “austerity” might mean that there won’t be any more new English Rowlings for a while, either. Still, she’s got another even bigger pay day ahead of her with the upcoming 3D series finale.

Meanwhile, last week’s trinity of top moneymakers held on decently with drops somewhere not too far above the 40% region. #2 “Megamind” amassed an estimate of $16.175 for its world domination war chest; runaway train thriller #3 “Unstoppable” was not stopped and earned an estimated $13.1 million; #4 “Due Date” avoided lateness penalties in its third weekend for a star-driven $9.15 million.

Meanwhile, the wide theatrical run for Russell Crowe‘s latest may not be all that much longer than, you guessed it, “The Next Three Days.” Paul Haggis’s underwhelmingly reviewed thriller costarring Elizabeth Banks debuted in the deadly #5 spot with only $6.75 million. The budget on the film, which could well be very modest if you subtract Crowe’s paycheck, is unknown at this point, but Nikki Finke is quick to remind that marketing costs for a film like this pretty much start at $30 million.

Will Russell Crowe and Elizabeth banks last for

  

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Zack and Miri Make an R-rated Trailer

Click here if you prefer not to hear naughty words in your movie trailers.

  

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