Ted is in charge

Monday, July 02, 2012    

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ted, Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane's comedy about a talking teddy bear, has opened as the No 1 movie in the US with US$54.1 million.

Magic Mike, Channing Tatum and Steven Soderbergh's male-stripper tale, debuted at a strong No 2 with US$39.2 million.

Pixar Animation's fairy tale Brave held up well at No 3 with US$34 million in its second weekend. Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection opened solidly at No 4 with US$26.4 million.

The movies combined to keep Hollywood in the money compared to the same weekend last year, when Transformers: Dark of the Moon launched with nearly US$100 million.

Ted stars Wahlberg as a guy whose stuffed bear magically came to life when he was a boy, the two growing up together to become slacker, party-boy roommates. Writer-director MacFarlane, the creator of TV's Family Guy, provides the voice of the bear, while Family Guy voice co-star Mila Kunis plays Wahlberg's girlfriend.

The idea of a cuddly teddy bear combined with a foul mouth and MacFarlane's wicked sense of humour caught fire with audiences, who lifted Ted far beyond the opening of US$35 million or less that Hollywood generally expected.

"In my heart of hearts, I just felt that everybody was starting to talk about this talking bear, and everyone loves Seth MacFarlane, people love his show," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal.

Magic Mike also far outstripped industry expectations. The weekend was a rare instance where two movies rated for adult audiences opened at Nos 1 and 2.

Directed by Soderbergh, Magic Mike is inspired by Tatum's early career as a male stripper and features him as a veteran dancer who takes a newcomer (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing.

The beefcake factor of Tatum, Pettyfer and co-star Matthew McConaughey strutting their stuff had women packing theaters in a way that distributor Warner Bros had not seen since its Sex and the City flicks. Female fans made up 73 per cent of the Magic Mike crowds.

Brave raised its domestic haul to US$131.7 million and has added $26.8 million in its slow rollout overseas for a worldwide total of $158.5 million.

Filmmaker and star Perry's latest features outspoken Southerner Madea taking in a Wall Street guy (Eugene Levy) whose family is placed in witness protection.

The first Perry release in summer, Madea's Witness Protection earned 70 per cent of its revenue from black audiences, down from the filmmaker's usual 80 percent, as funnyman Levy and co-star Denise Richards gave it more appeal among whites.

Like Ted and Magic Mike, Madea's Witness Protection did better than Hollywood anticipated. David Spitz, head of distribution for Lionsgate, said movie-going just seems to be in the air, especially considering the heat gripping much of the nation.



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