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So far, outside of the success of "The Avengers," "Snow White and the Huntsman" and "Madagascar 3," it's been something of a disappointing summer for Hollywood's major studios. The fireworks two new films created Friday may be a sign moviegoers may be finally ready to return to their local multiplexes.
Debuting with a shocking $20.2 million was Seth McFarlane's comedy "Ted." Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and McFarlane (as the voice of the title character), the R-rated comedy has hit a nerve with audiences. The question for Universal Studios is whether "Ted's" big Friday was a case of the "Family Guy" creator's audience front-loading the weekend cume or a sign that interest was significantly higher overall than anticipated. That puts opening estimates at anywhere from $50-65 million. Wherever "Ted" ends up, it's already one of the biggest surprise hits of the summer and should be Wahlberg's second biggest opener ever after "Planet of the Apes" found $68.5 million almost 11 years ago.
Also exceeding expectations was Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike." Warner Bros. did an excellent job marketing this "8 Mile" for male stripping drama and making it seem more scandalous than it really is (not that the risque scenes won't make the ladies or some men in the audience happy). Also rated R, "Mike" grossed $19.4 million on Friday for what could be a $45-50 million weekend. Like "Ted," there is some concern the interest may be front-loaded. This is a huge win for Channing Tatum who has his third improbable smash of the year on his hands after "The Vow" and " 21 Jump Street." Sources tell HitFix "Mike" only cost $18 million which means its clearly on its way to become a cash cow for Warner Bros.
Last week's champ, Pixar's "Brave," had a solid $10.3 million on Friday for what should be $108 million in just eight days. With little family competition over the July 4th holiday, the animated adventure should eventually cross the $200 million mark.
Significantly lower profile, but still making some noise was Tyler Perry's "Madea's Witness Protection." Perry and the character's fan base conjured up $10.2 million for what should be a $28-30 million three-day take. That would be a bit higher than "Madea's Big Happy Family" which opened to $25 million in April, 2011 and proves Perry can still his audience in the summer frame.
It wasn't all good news at the box office, however. DreamWorks' "People Like Us" took in just $1.4 million on 2,055 screens for what should amount to a $3.5-4.5 million weekend. The directorial debut of producer and writer Alex Kurtzman is only one of two films on DreamWorks Studios' slate this year. The other is Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" which opens in December.
Having a much better expansion to 854 theaters was Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom." The critically acclaimed Wes Anderson dramedy pulled in $1.3 million for what should be a $4-5.5 million weekend. "Kingdom" has grossed a stellar $14.9 million so far.
Look for updated weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.