It's both a bear and bull market for Hollywood.
The bear is ‘‘Ted,'' Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane's comedy for Universal Pictures about a talking teddy bear, which opened as the No. 1 movie with $54.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
And the bulls are baring it in the Warner Bros. release ‘‘Magic Mike,'' Channing Tatum and Steven Soderbergh's male-stripper tale that debuted a strong No. 2 with $39.2 million.
The two new movies were backed by a deep bench, with Pixar Animation's Disney fairy tale ‘‘Brave'' holding up well at No. 3 with $34 million in its second weekend. ‘‘Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection,'' the latest from the dependable breadwinner for Lionsgate Films, opened solidly at No. 4 with $26.4 million.
The four movies combined to keep Hollywood in the money compared to the same weekend last year, when ‘‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon'' launched with $97.9 million.
‘‘Ted's'' opening was the third-highest R-rated comedy debut, behind last year's ‘‘Hangover 2'' ($85.9 million) and 2010's ‘‘Sex and the City 2'' ($57 million), but it was the biggest ever R-rated non-sequel comedy opening.
It was an equally big weekend overseas, where two huge franchises got a head-start on their U.S. openings.
The 20th Century Fox animated sequel ‘‘Ice Age: Continental Drift'' opened with $78 million in 34 international markets, while Sony's ‘‘The Amazing Spider-Man'' debuted with $50.2 million in 13 markets. ‘‘Amazing Spider-Man'' opens domestically Tuesday for the Fourth of July weekend, while ‘‘Continental Drift'' has its U.S. debut July 13.
Domestic revenues totaled $207.7 million, up 3 percent from the same weekend in 2011, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com. That was quite an accomplishment, considering the Fourth of July fell on Monday last year, making it a long holiday weekend.
‘‘It was absolutely astonishing that we're beating the same weekend a year ago given the enormity of the film, the big sci-fi blockbuster that opened then,'' said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. ‘‘This played out like a holiday weekend without it really being a holiday weekend. It speaks volumes about the importance of having a wide variety of films in the marketplace.''
The only one that didn't work among new wide releases was the sibling drama ‘‘People Like Us,'' which tanked at No. 10 with $4.3 million. A DreamWorks release distributed by Disney, the movie features Chris Pine (Captain Kirk of ‘‘Star Trek") as a man who gets himself into an awkward relationship with the half-sister (Elizabeth Banks) he never knew he had.
‘‘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 humor caught fire with audiences, who lifted ‘‘Ted'' far beyond the opening of $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. ‘‘And the marketing campaign did a great job of telling people how fabulous this picture is for an R-rated audience.''
‘‘Magic Mike'' also far outstripped industry expectations. The weekend was a rare instance where two R-rated movies opened at Nos. 1 and 2, and it followed another unusual weekend where two PG-rated movies ("Brave'' and ‘‘Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted") led the box office.
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 percent of the ‘‘Magic Mike'' crowds.
‘‘'Magic Mike' just didn't have the brand that ‘Sex and the City' had for so many years,'' said Dan Fellman, Warner's head of distribution. ‘‘The fact that it performed in the same vein was a great surprise.''
"Ted" is what happens when you give the creator of "Family Guy" the freedom of an R-rating and a big budget – and the final product is nothing short of raunchy, comedy gold.
We've all seen the cheesy commercials for Teddy Ruxpin or My Buddy and Me (and Kid Sister!) and now Seth McFarlane takes the idea of the talking teddy bear in a hilarious and crass new direction.
"Ted" opens with an idyllic Boston suburb on Christmas Eve while the professorial narration by none other than Patrick Stewart shows us how young John wishes for a friend and receives Ted, a talking teddy bear. The miraculous event propels Ted into stardom with gigs on the Carson show, but he eventually, with age, he becomes a has-been.
As adults, John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted slum around, drink, smoke and watch "Flash Gordon," much to the chagrin of John's girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). The two struggle with leaving their adolescent lifestyles to find something meaningful to do with their lives.
Then there's Giovanni Ribisi (at his absolute creepiest), adding comedic suspense, as he stalks Ted with the intent of stealing him for his own sick and twisted son.
Ted's vulgar personality and often-taboo dialogue save the film from becoming the victim of a typical buddy movie or romantic comedy. Ted and John are two of the best movie ‘buddies' since Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in "48 Hours." The relationship between John and Ted is genuinely honest and sweet, and that is a remarkable feat between an actor and a CGI bear. Most of the credit goes to the script and to McFarlane's superb voicing of Ted, replete with a charming Boston accent. The balance between the shocking humor and the tenderness of their friendship gives "Ted" staying power. By film's end, you'll miss them.
Tender moments aside; let's not forget this is Seth McFarlane. He unabashedly flames celebrities, ethnicities and movies. In fact, very little in our culture is left unscathed and some of those un-PC moments will make you laugh so hard you'll cry.
McFarlane brings some of his "Family Guy" crew to the film, most notably the lovely Mila Kunis, the dryly sarcastic Patrick Warburton and composer Walter Murphy. Murphy and McFarlane wrote the catchy opening number "Everyone Needs a Best Friend," which is performed by Norah Jones.
"Ted" lays on thick the ‘random' humor that has made "Family Guy" an icon in contemporary comedy. The 1980 cult classic "Flash Gordon" becomes a hilarious device and McFarlane makes wonderful use of some surprising cameos.
Fans of 80's nostalgia, "Family Guy" and "American Dad" will certainly love McFarlane's inimitable style brought to the big screen. But be warned, those that aren't fans or can't stomach his humor will most likely want to skip "Ted."