Box Office Preview: Who Will Win the Name Game – Mike, Ted or Madea?

It’s the last weekend of June, a month that’s become somewhat notorious due to the number of outright bombs over the past couple of weeks–well, it started out well anyway–and we’re wrapping things up with three comedies targeted towards different audiences and a character drama that may sadly get lost in the shuffle. Either way, we don’t think any of the new movies can beat Brave in its second weekend, and it’s really anyone’s game for second place.

What might put Steven Soderbergh’s “stripper movie” Magic Mike (Warner Bros.) over the top is that it stars two hugely-popular male stars among women, Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey. Oh, and they’re playing male strippers. Kaching! Yeah, for many women this idea alone will make this a no-brainer so expect shrieking groups of women (and gay men) to rush out to see the movie both Thursday at midnight and on Friday after work giving it a big advantage over the other movies even if it should then level off over the weekend. It’s certainly a strange choice for Soderbergh whose guy-friendly output has included the “Ocean’s 11″ movies, the recent hit thriller Contagion, as well as the MMA movie Haywire (in which Tatum also appeared), but the advertising has wisely focused on the hunky male actors wearing little clothes rather than the Oscar-winning filmmaker. It also stars Alex Pettyfer who starred in last year’s I Am Number Four and Beastly and Joe Manganiello from “True Blood,” but they won’t be as much of a draw. With lots of advance tickets already being sold, Magic Mike should win Friday with between $11 and 13 million and end the weekend somewhere in the low-to-mid $30 millions. With few other women-friendly movies, it should hold well over the next few weeks to end up with roughly $90 to 95 million give or take, making it Tatum’s third major hit of 2012.

Mini-Review: By now you’ve probably already heard about the “Channing Tatum male stripper movie” based on his own pre-”Step Up” experiences and depending on your gender and sexuality, you’ll already have certain expectations, some of which should be easily appeased. If nothing else, “Magic Mike” is a great way for both Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum to show their incredible versatility with a movie that’s a lot more fun than “Haywire” or “Contagion.”

Tatum plays the title character, Magic Mike, an entrepreneur trying to earn money for his custom furniture shop by doing odd jobs including stripping, and when he meets the 19-year-old Adam (Alex Pettyfer) at a construction site, he sees something in him that makes him a natural to come dance at the club. Adam’s more responsible and over-protective older sister (Cody Horn) doesn’t understand his desire to get involved in this world.

Soderbergh should be commended for creating a commercial-looking film while retaining some of his artier and more independent sensibilities like using cinema verite camerawork for certain scenes. He also should be hailed for getting one of the best performances out of Alex Pettyfer of his relatively short career and having the wherewithal or hiring Cody Horn as one of Mike’s love interest regardless of her connections to a former Warner Bros. studio exec. She’s really good and she brings out the best in Tatum, giving one of his more well-rounded performances both in terms of drama and humor as their chemistry often keeps the movie interesting.

If Tatum is funny in this movie, then Matthew McConaughey is hilarious as the club’s owner and MC Dallas, delivering some of the movie’s funniest lines and moments. Much of the fun comes from the elaborate strip club routines where all the guys get into the act, although at a certain point, the guys’ dance numbers stop doing much to move the story forward and it’s being done just to give the ladies in the audience some eye candy. None of the other male actors really get enough screen time to really think much of them beyond being their for their bodies.

As entertaining as that may be for some, it takes some time to get to an actual plot and when it does, it immediately goes into fairly predictable territory with Adam getting involved in selling drugs and with a character played by Riley Keough, who we never really enough about to care, we don’t get any satisfying resolution to Adam’s story as it focuses more on Mike and his sister. The cast is rounded out by Olivia Munn as a fling that Mike has which he tries to get more serious about, and that relationship does give us a better sense of the loneliness of this guy who can get any woman.

“Magic Mike” is a perfectly solid film but hard as it may try, “Boogie Nights” it’s not, and while it’s certainly fun, you don’t walk away with anything close to that film’s impact nor do you feel like you’ve gotten the entire story about what it’s like to be in this world.

Rating: 7.5/10

Its main competition will be Ted (Universal), the R-rated feature film debut from “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and a foul-mouthed teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane), which should be one of the first choices for guys between 15 and 30. The advantage MacFarlane has is the built-in fanbase from his popular television shows and without many other choices at the movies for guys, they’re likely to give this a look hoping for the same kind of humor only without the censorship of being on television. The advantage this has over Magic Mike is that some women may be interested enough to see it, while no heterosexual male would be caught dead seeing that movie, even (or especially) with a girlfriend/wife despite Soderbergh’s generally guy-friendly filmography to date. We think this one should do $8 to 9 million on Friday and then also tail off over the weekend, so we’re probably looking at roughly $24 to 26 million over the weekend and somewhere around $80 to $85 million or more depending on how word-of-mouth plays out.

8/10 Review

Normally, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (Lionsgate) would be a sure winner in any weekend it opens because he has a very dedicated audience of African-American women who’ll go see any movie he makes. Also, his movies with Madea in them (and in the title) will do better than one that’s a non-Madea drama not based on one of Perry’s popular plays. “Witness Protection” is somewhat of an odd anomaly because it’s a Madea comedy written specifically for the screen, and besides being Perry’s very first movie released during the summer, it may also have Tyler Perry’s most Caucasian cast yet by starring Eugene Levy, Denise Richards and Tom Arnold, though the latter two will do little to bring in audiences going by their past film work. As is usually the case, Lionsgate is releasing it into a moderate number of theaters, mostly focusing on the areas where Tyler Perry’s African-American audiences might go check it out, rather than giving it a wider release hoping to expand his audiences. The last Madea movie only opened with $25 million in April 2011–the franchise peaked two years earlier with Madea Goes to Jail, which opened with $41 million. This makes one think the Madea character may already be losing some of Perry’s normally dedicated audience, and because of that, we think this one will end up in the lower $20 million this weekend and it probably will end up with less than $50 million total, as those who want to see the movie will go opening weekend.

Video Interview with Eugene Levy (Coming Soon!)

Review (Embargoed Until Friday)

For the second weekend in a row, we have a dark horse candidate coming to theaters and this week, it’s the character drama People Like Us (Disney/DreamWorks) from Alex Kurtzman, co-writer of some of the “Transformers” and “Star Trek” movies. It stars Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde and Michelle Pfeiffer, a great line-up of actors with big summer blockbusters under their belts but doing something smaller and more personal. DreamWorks and Disney have been giving this a big push hoping that older adults not interested in the other movies might give it a look, especially if reviews are good, but opening in a moderate amount of theaters against two movies that are likely to be bigger draws for older women, it’s hard to think this one has a prayer of a chance. We think it should be able to do $5 to 6 million and possibly make as much as $20 million by summer’s end, but more people will find this on DVD, especially if it gets any sort of awards attention later in the year.

Interview with Director Alex Kurtzman

Review

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom finally will expand nationwide on Friday, though it may have already outlasted its welcome in the bigger cities where Anderson’s movies tend to play well, so we can probably expect the per-theater average to drop considerably and its placement in the Top 10 will rely solely on whether it expands into 700 theaters or 1,100 on Friday. It could get edged out by Snow White and the Huntsman.

This is where things get a little weird in terms of last year because there was no last weekend of June and the 4th of July took place on a Monday, and since we weren’t planning on talking about 4th of July until next week, that places Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Paramount) into a weird limbo since it opened on June 28, a Tuesday, but its first weekend was the first weekend of July. Since we don’t want to completely screw up the month of July, we’ll talk about it now and figure out how to fix things next week. It opened on Tuesday night with previews that brought in $5.5 million, followed by a full-day opening of $37.7 million and another $21 million on Thursday. It entered the weekend with $64.7 million under its belt and then remained on top with another $97.8 million over the weekend. Offered as counter-programming on Friday, July 1 was the Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts comedy Larry Crowne (Universal), which opened with $13.1 million in 2,972 theaters to take fourth place, while the Selena Gomez movie Monte Carlo (20th Century Fox) opened in sixth place with just $7.4 million. The fact that the 3rd of July fell on Monday certainly helped the weekend numbers since people were generally off for a four-day weekend with the Top 10 totally $186.4 million. Since the 4th of July isn’t until Wednesday this year, it won’t get the holiday bump and end up falling way short.

This Week’s UPDATED Predictions -

1. Brave (Disney•Pixar) – $36.3 million -45%

2. Magic Mike (Warner Bros.) – $31.3 million N/A (down .2 million)

3. Ted (Universal Pictures) – $27.5 million N/A (up 2.5 million)

4. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (Lionsgate) – $23.5million N/A (up .1 million)

5. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) – $11.0 million -43%

6. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (20th Century Fox) – $6.4 million -61%

7. People Like Us (DreamWorks/Disney) – $5.6 million N/A

8. Prometheus (20th Century Fox) – $5.1 million -48% (down .1 million)

9. Marvel’s The Avengers (Disney) – $4.9 million -31% (down .1 million)

10. Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features) – $4.3 million +18% (down .2 million)

Before we get to the limited releases, we want to remind our readers that on Friday, the annual New York Asian Film Festival will be kicking off at Lincoln Center as well as moving over to the Japan Society during the second weekend in July. This year’s festival features some really great genre films from China, Japan, Korea and other Asian countries, as well as some of Asia’s top talent (including Donnie Yen and Old Boy star Choi Min-Sik and many more on-hand to answer questions after the screenings.) Every year, this has been one of the most fun events we get to attend, and you can read more about this year’s festival selection on the Official Site,

The Chosen One

The first time we saw Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz (Magnolia), starring Michelle Williams as Toronto native Margot, a woman caught between a loving husband (played by Seth Rogen) and an amorous and seductive neighbor (Luke Kirby), we really enjoyed it, though it was certainly an odd choice to follow-up the Oscar-nominated drama Away From Her. (You can see our review below.) We’ve seen the movie two or three times since the Toronto International Film Festival and it’s really grown on us, everything from the quirky playful humor in the relationship between Williams and Rogen, to Luke Kirby’s way of trying to seduce Williams by offering everything her husband doesn’t. It’s a beautifully-shot film that goes deep into the relationship between a married couple and why a happily-married woman might even think about cheating on her husband, and as much as it shows, it also leaves a lot of things open that allows for multiple viewings and interpretations. I’ve already been a fan of Williams for years, and she gives a performance on par with her last two Oscar-nominated performances–it also offers an interesting counterpoint to how Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine handled a marriage in turmoil. Seth Rogen surprises with a surprisingly poignant portrayal of her loving husband who has to deal with a lot of her eccentricities. It’s pretty obvious that the movie won’t be for everyone, but it’s probably one of the better date movies to take your spouse or long-time girlfriend/boyfriend to see as it will allow for a lot of interesting conversations afterwards.

Take This Waltz opens in New York City on Friday at the Landmark Sunshine and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center on Friday, June 29 and in California and other select cities on July 6.

Video Interview with Sarah Polley

Our Toronto Review

The belle of the ball at this year’s Sundance and Cannes film festival is Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight), a drama co-written with playwright Lucy Alibar about a Louisiana community known as the Bathtub where a six-year-old girl known as Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) is living in squalor with her father Wink (Dwight Henry), refusing to leave even though there’s a danger of the water from the gulf overflowing the levee and flooding the entire make-shift village. It opens in New York and Los Angeles on Wednesday and in other cities on Friday, July 6.

Interview with Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar

Jonathan Demme makes his third concert film with rocker Neil Young called Neil Young Journeys (Sony Pictures Classics), following his journey across Canada in May 2011 in a 1956 Crown Victoria to his show at Toronto’s Massey Hall, including footage from the show and introspective stories about his childhood in his hometown of Omemee, Ontario.

Martin Sulik’s Czech-Slovakian drama Gypsy (Studio) follows the tale of a 14-year-old Roma gypsy boy whose father dies leaving him with a stepfather who drags him into criminal activities. It opens on Wednesday at New York’s Film Forum.

André Téchiné’s drama Unforgivable (Strand Releasing) is an adaptation of Philippe Dijan’s novel about a crime novelist, played by André Dussolier, who moves to Venice to write when he meets a bisexual model/realtor who he falls for and marries, only to spend the next few years obsessing over what she does while he’s at work, so he hires an ex-convict to keep an eye on her. It opens in New York and L.A.

Next week, the month of July kicks off with the anticipated reboot of Marvel’s webbed superhero The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony), starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (opening Tuesday), while director Oliver Stone returns with the crime-drama Savages (Universal) and Katy Perry is in 3D in Katy Perry: Part of Me (Paramount).

You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the new Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.

Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas

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