Something Happened

Magic Mike was looking at a weekend tally in the mid ’40s. But the Saturday income dropped 45% from Friday’s, and now the projection is for $38 million or thereabouts. Apparently Joe & Jane Popcorn, looking for an amusing male-stripper high, didn’t like the serious character stuff or…what, the orange sepia photography?

Universal’s Ted dropped 15% from Friday to Saturday but will still take in $52 million. So what happened apart from the usual U.S. boxoffice scenario of a not-as-good film (i.e., Ted) making more money than the clearly superior competition (i.e., Mike)?

There’s always been a huge aesthetic gap between Serious Film Catholics and casual ticket buyers. The former tend to view Average Joes as not just Adam Sandler-embracing “easy lays” whose tastes are stubbornly unsophisticated, but in some ways “stupid and ineducable,” to quote from “The Film Snob’s Dictionary.” A $5 million indie flick making $38 million over a single weekend is obviously a hugely successful thing, but negative buzz from the above-described sector prevented Mike from hitting the mid 40s. Philistines.

When I was coming out of Ted late Friday night at the Chelsea Clearview I heard three guys talking about Mike, which had also just ended. One guy was complaining that Mike “has no plot.” He apparently meant it had none of the contrivances and complications that constitute a “plot” according to 21st Century standards, but what happens in Mike is all driven by character. Mike has an arc, of course, and the four significant characters start at point A and end up and point J or K. What the hell was that Chelsea Clearview guy looking for? A third-act twist?

You could throw that “no plot” complaint at a lot of films, including Last Tango in Paris and Lawrence of Arabia and three or four hundred others.

20 thoughts on “Something Happened

  1. Wreck on said:

    You’d think after all these years that Wells would understand box office figures. Word of mouth has nothing to do with Magic Mikes drop. It’s that the target audience all rushed out on Friday to see it. Use Sex and the City as a comp.

  2. It’s the new Sex and the City. Women were organizing parties before heading out together to see it. Probably not a reflection of word of mouth since it was advertized as Chippendales on film and that’s exactly what it was. Just frontloaded.

  3. Mainstream audiences have reacted in pretty much the same way to all of Soderberghs last few films: Haywire, Contagion and The Informant! They don’t like ‘em. There’s something about his aesthetic sensibilities of late that’s not clicking, even if it works for critics and the type of nerds who frequent these blogs (myself included).

    It’s a bit funny when you consider how much those sensibilities DID click a decade ago, when it was Erin Brockovitch, Traffic, and Ocean’s 11.

  4. Channing Tatum’s desire for a serious movie made about male stripping directed by Sort-of-Boring is your reason for the public disconnect.

  5. Mainstream audiences went for CONTAGION.

    I would wager most of these movies haven’t been meant for blockbusters. Even though it appears to be fun, MAGIC MIKE looks fairly niche. It appears the box office will be respectable for a non sequel, non tentpole deal. Regardless of 2 day drop.

  6. Sorry Jeff, but Cinematography and Art direction are about the only thing this movie has going for it. Matthew McConaughey is the only real talent and it was like someone told him to channel an over the top Tom Cruise. Olivia Munn is HORRIBLE and most everyone else was one note. Act One felt rushed and clunky, “hurry, set it all up so we can get on with it.” Act Two was predictable and terribly paced. It felt like it took forever to get to Act Three and by then I just wanted it to be over. The theatre I saw it in was packed and the crowd was totally silent as they left. I’m a Soderbergh fan and his run from Out of Sight through Ocean’s 11 was stellar, but he’s come off the rails. Pity.

  7. The Joe Popcorn part of your equation is predominantly straight and thus has no desire to see. A movie about male strippers. It’s that simple and obvious.

  8. What is this about the 86th post about Magic Mike?
    This is a film that in ten years you can look to,provided Tatum has a career, as another Cocktail, like your recent post about enduring embarrassments.

  9. Magic Mike did as well as it could for what it is, and is still a significant win for Soderbergh, compared to, say, Full Frontal and The Girlfriend Experience. If it didn’t have Tatum when he’s currently in demand, it’d do a lot worse. And it still managed to knock down a Pixar movie from its second weekend perch; so that in itself is an accomplishment.

  10. I just saw MM, and thought it was entertaining and actually well written. I do wish there was more nudity instead of the gauzy cinematography when they’re having group sex. But I got the movie…and I’m a woman….one of Soderbergh’s better movies.

  11. According to IMDB, MM was budgeted at $5Mil….I find that hard to believe, but if so, then it has more than made its money back.

  12. Nothing ‘happened’. A $7 million R-rated drama about male strippers just opened with $39 million. Even if it collapses and crawls to $70 million, with another $70 million overseas, it will be one of the most profitable studio pictures of the year. If it actually has even Sex and the City-ish legs (huge drop on second weekend, held on for awhile after that for a 2.7x weekend-to-final multiplier), it gets to over $100 million, which is the most surprising $100 million+ movie since Black Swan. Even if most of the general moviegoers went for the prurient stuff (as one could argue was a driving force behind Black Swan), who cares? They came out in droves for an atypical R-rated adult picture and made it a hit. Kudos to you, American movie goer! Kudos!

  13. Guys are not turned off cause it’s about male strippers, they’re turned off cause the movie looks god awful. The trailers made it seem like a lame romantic comedy.

    I’d see the film if it looked interesting, but it doesn’t. Tatum is one of the worst actors to come down the pike in at least a decade. He makes Keanu Reeves look like Brando. He’s awful. And the whole “new guy coming in” angle so the audience has someone to identify with? That’s just bad writing.

    And if women are so into this kind of thing, why are male strip clubs so unpopular? Oh right, cause they’re seedy shitholes populated by gay dudes. This movie is sanitized Hollywood horseshit.

  14. I’m starting to really wonder about Jeff’s obsession with this movie, but if you go back to the days of Haywire, he also had put up many head scratching posts about how great that movie was as well.

    When you add this to his very questionable love of Che, you get the gist that he’ll eagerly push any Sodercrap that comes down the pike.

    Cocktail > Magic Mike

  15. MM is such a bad movie … the best line in the film is in the first scene, after that it’s all downhill …. the hurricane scene might’ve been interesting in a better film, and I liked the pig eating the vomit …. but overall what a bomb … MM is the emperors new clothes

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