Box Office Preview: Pre-Holiday Fireworks Expected for 'Ted,' 'Magic Mike'
A raunchy stuffed animal and a posse of male strippers go to battle this weekend at the domestic box office as Hollywood readies for the lucrative Fourth of July holiday.
Universal's R-rated comedy Ted, starring Mark Wahlberg opposite a teddy bear, has a good chance of besting holdover Brave for the weekend crown with a debut in the $35 million to $40 million range on the strength of younger males (the studio is predicting a more conservative $26 million to $35 million).
Directed by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane -- who also voices the stuffed bear -- Ted was packaged and fully financed for $50 million by Media Rights Capital.
Opinion is divided as to how much Brave will gross in its second weekend after opening to a stellar $66.3 million. If the film drops 50 percent, it will earn $33 million; if it drops 40 percent, it will gross $40 million.
The wild card of the weekend is Steven Soderbergh's male-stripper dramedy Magic Mike, loosely based on star Channing Tatum's early days as an exotic dancer. The film's cast also includes Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer.
Warner Bros. acquired North American rights to Magic Mike for only $7 million.
Magic Mike, benefiting from intense interest among women, has racked up strong advance ticket sales, in line with previous female-skewing films including fellow Warners pic Sex and the City. The studio is predicting an opening in the $15 million to $20 million range for Magic Mike, though other box-office observers believe it could earn as much as $25 million.
Magic Mike should see strong midnight business Thursday.
The weekend's other two new entries are Tyler Perry's latest outing Madea's Witness Protection, from Lionsgate, and DreamWorks and Disney's Adult Drama, directed by Alex Kurtzman and starring Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, Elizabeth Banks and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Witness Protection -- which is tracking strongly among black women -- could keep up with Magic Mike and debut in the $20 million to $25 million range, though Lionsgate puts the film's debut in the high teens.
Witness Protection is the first Perry film to be released in summer, and Lionsgate is betting on good midweek business during Fourth of July week.
People Like Us, going out in a smaller number of theaters than its rivals, is expected to open in the $5 million to $7 million range, a soft start for the DreamWorks film. The hope is that the movie will serve as counterprogramming throughout the holiday period.
In New York and Los Angeles, People Like Us could end up competing with Fox Searchlight's critically acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild for adult attention. Beasts, the Sundance favorite that's an early awards contender, opened Wednesday to promising numbers for an art house title, grossing $27,175 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $6,794.