A lewd teddy bear and male strippers squared off this weekend in one of Hollywood's odder box-office duels, with Ted getting the upper paw over Magic Mike.
Ted, the comedy with Mark Wahlberg, took in $54.1 million, according to studio estimates from box-office trackers Hollywood.com. The debut eclipsed most projections, which had hovered around $23 million.
But critics and fans were solidly behind the Seth MacFarlane-directed movie about a teddy bear brought to foul-mouthed life. About 68% of critics gave it a thumbs-up, and 88% of moviegoers liked it - an indicator of good word-of-mouth - according to the survey site Rottentomatoes.com.
"Credit a hilarious concept, a funny trailer, above-average reviews and the fact that Seth MacFarlane's Ted voice is a close, but not exact, version of Peter Griffin (from MacFarlane's TV show Family Guy)," says Tim Briody of Boxofficeprophets.com.
Briody says the movie's debut has fans stoked. "Of course, with this success, MacFarlane might be able to make a Family Guy movie if he wants to now," though no studio has given the go-ahead to a movie.
The strippers of Magic Mike showed box-office moves as well, becoming the ladies-night-out film of the weekend and collecting $39.2 million. Most analysts expected the film to make about $30 million.
Mike was the best-reviewed film of the major releases this weekend. It earned thumbs-up from 79% of reviewers, and 77% of moviegoers liked it, according to Rottentomatoes.com.
Gitesh Pandya of Boxofficeguru.com credits Mike's success to a savvy Warner Bros. marketing campaign that focused on tapping "the Sex and the City crowd."
Theaters reported sellouts as groups of Mike fans rented out screens and coordinated theater gatherings through Facebook.
"The marketing push has been impressive and excitement has been building," Pandya says.
The animated fairy tale Brave took third with $34 million, which lifted its 10-day total to $131.7 million.
Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection was No. 4 with $26.4 million; that met most projections. The cartoon Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted rounded out the top 5 with $11.8 million. The comedy has made $180 million in four weekends.
Final figures are due Monday.
Despite the strong showings, ticket sales fell compared with last year, and revenue for 2012 dwindled to 7% ahead of last year's pace. Attendance is up about 10% over 2011, Hollywood.com says.