In Theaters This Weekend: June 29, 2012

In theaters this weekend, we're greeted with not one, not two, not three 
(okay, I better slow down, I'm starting to sound like LeBron James..), but four wide releases. There is definitely a wide variety of genres and subjects that will be available to you, but the question is, as we're locked-in on the summer season now, do any of the titles hold up to those standard?

We have an R-rated comedy, a movie about male strippers, a character drama about siblings, and a Tyler Perry movie with a guy dressed as an old woman. On paper, not the most inspiring collection of films for June.

"Ted""Magic Mike""People Like Us", and "Madea's Witness Protection". Those are our four new films this weekend. I'll give a stronger description of each, as well as what to expect, after the break. Also, we'll take a stab at what some of the weekend box office numbers might look like. With now blockbusters this weekend, but four different films fighting for placement, I expect things to get messy.

We start with the Seth MacFarland written & directed film, "Ted". This fantasy comedy centers around the idea that when a boy wishes his teddy bear come to life, his wish is granted. Now an adult (Mark Wahlberg), his teddy bear (Ted - who is also voiced by MacFarland), still stands by his side. At this point, it's not quite as childish as it might sound though, as the bear swears, drinks, and partakes in a variety of other adulterous acts. The pair is nearly inseparable, and that poses problems with John's (Wahlberg) current girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis).

On one hand, I really like Mark Wahlberg, and I'm excited to see him in a comedy like this, basically with no holding back. But on the other, I really can't stand the type of humor that I've seen from MacFarland in the past, and I'm not sure what will be featured here will be much different. I could probably get over the humor and give this one a chance - assuming that it wouldn't be in exactly the same vain as his television show Family Guy - but since he's also voicing the character of Ted (a very similar voice to one of the worst television characters I've ever seen, Peter Griffin), I'm afraid I can't escape it. For that last fact alone, at this point I've completely written the film off. I know I'd be too reminded of this other idiotic characters, and I wouldn't be able to relax and enjoy the film. Now, if MacFarland's humor is something you've appreciated in the past, then I believe this will be a fantastic option for you. I think it will be completely out of control, and should provide for plenty of nonsensical laughs.

What intrigues me is that the film has debuted to overly positive reviews so far, currently sitting at a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics are all saying the same things I'd expect, it just depends on which side of the fence you fall on. I expect this one will play out similarly to what we see in Family Guy, just maybe to a more extreme level - constant random joke after random joke, mostly centered around topical pop culture, that will provide quick laughs, but nothing memorable or meaningful. I think I'll eventually want to give this a watch on DVD, but I'm in no hurry. If you're a fan of MacFarland otherwise, this should be right up your alley; if not, I wouldn't expect much from this.

We jump next to "Magic Mike", which stars Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Joe Manganiello, and Matthew McConaughey as a group of male strippers at the top of the game. Tatum's character is the seasoned vet, while he takes another under his wing to teach him the tricks of the trade. Also, Tatum develops a love interest with a woman, and struggles to find a balance between real life and his entertainment life.

So far, the film is sitting at a strong 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, but seeing as how Tatum has exploded onto the scene this past year - and the fact that this is a Steven Soderbergh ("Ocean's 11", "Contagion") film - this doesn't much surprise me. On the surface this just looks like an eye-candy fest for women (and/or men, I don't judge), but what I'm hearing is that the film is actually masterfully crafted, and Soderbergh's exquisite attention to detail shines through more than any other aspect of the film. It's silly, sure, and is centered around male stripping, but at the same time there is a real message here that comes through quite clearly.

As I mentioned on this past CinemaCast, I don't think I'll be seeing this film this weekend - my girlfriend is out of the state, and even though I feel like I can get past the male stripping aspects just fine, I can't justify going to the theater by myself for this film. I'll surely check it out on DVD when it releases, but given the right circumstances, this can be an enjoyable watch for all. Women: you don't need anymore reason than the trailers; Men: if you have a girl to take to this one, you're smooth sailing - you can claim that you're only seeing it for your girl, but still check out some of the better aspect that film actually has to offer. I don't think the theater will add much to this viewing...I take that back - women, a shirtless Channing Tatum 30-feet tall, or a shirtless Channing Tatum 40-inches tall? I think I know the answer to that question.

If you can, get past the fact that this one is about male strippers; there's more here than you'd expect from a film of this nature.

Another film releasing this weekend is "People Like Us". This one stars Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks and two people that come together with the death of their father - the only thing: they didn't realize they had a sibling. These two people who've grown up thinking one thing about life and family are suddenly hit with a situation to make them reevaluate everything.

Again, pretty strong on Rotten Tomatoes right now - an 81%, just as "Magic Mike" sits. Even before reviews, this was the film that I thought would most interest me. I enjoy character dramas, and both of these actors are easy for me to watch. People are saying that the writing is actually quite strong in this, and keeps the bar high on true adult dramas. If you can appreciate films like this, with small aspects of comedy but mostly character developments, than this should be a good choice for you this weekend. That being said though, don't expect the theater to add much to this viewing - this is a point I've touched on before in these posts, and it's something that I always like to keep in mind when examining my weekend viewing options. The bottom line is if this movie interests you, then go see it; don't worry about this. But, I like to point out that you probably aren't gaining much with a theater visit on this one. Character dramas play mostly the same wherever you are. This might be just as well suited for a great DVD rental on a slow weekday evening once it comes out. I do feel like this will be my most-liked from this weekend's batch, but I also don't expect to venture to the theaters for it.

And the final film releasing this weekend is "Madea's Witness Protection". It seems like just yesterday that we were talking about the upcoming release of another Tyler Perry film, "Good Deeds". While the films weren't really that similar, Perry has definitely been busy in the past half decade. In the past six years he's averaged two films per year, in the director's chair for all twelve. This is the fourth Madea feature film, however, and has become a very proven commodity. While never overpowering, for niche character dramedies, they're doing all right - each film grossing at least $50MM at the box office.

I haven't really seen or heard much from this film yet - currently an embargo on reviews (and we all know what that means) - but I feel confident in saying that I won't be checking this one out this weekend. I've never really gotten into this character, and I don't fully understand the appeal, but that being said, the trailers give me a few chuckles, and I'm quite confident that this film will provide plenty of decent laughs. Expect tones and comedy similar to his previous Madea films, so if any of that was of interest to you, you'll probably be satisfied with this one as well. Eugene Levy should provide a unique twist on the comedy here, but he's always provided for plenty of laughs.

As for the weekend Box Office goes, this looks to be the messiest we've seen things for a while. With four different films opening wide, there's still not a prototypical summer blockbuster amongst them. None of these feel like they'll put up fantastic numbers, each with their own hangups. "Madea's Witness Protection" seems the easiest to project, as there have been previous installments from this franchise. On average, the previous three films have opened to just over $30MM each. Now, all three were released much earlier in the year, so those numbers will be a bit inflated, but it's a good place to start. With so much content out right now, I expect this one will end up in the $18MM-$20MM range, but it wouldn't surprise me if it hit $25MM. "Ted" probably has the best chance to come out on top of all four films listed above, but the fact that it is rated-R does hurt what it can rake in this weekend. Looking back over the past few years, R-rated comedies that have released in June, much like "Bad Teacher" and "Knocked Up", seem like decent comparables. They both had aspects to their releases that seem similar to Ted's situation, and both earned just about $30MM in their opening weekends. That seems like a decent estimate, even if a tad high. We're probably looking at closer to $26MM-$28MM, but $30MM definitely seems attainable. The last two films give me a few more questions. I'm confident that "People Like Us" will be at the bottom of the barrel among these four films, but that's simply because adults don't usually turn out in large numbers for films like this. The film has bankable stars, so that will help, but I think $7MM-$9MM is a safe bet. For "Magic Mike" I went to Steven Soderbergh's box office history for some frame of reference. Immediately I toss out the Ocean's films, because this doesn't have nearly the broad appeal that they did. But looking at "Contagion" (opening of $22MM) and "The Informant!" (opening of $10MM) seemed like a great range for this. To make it easy, I almost want to say that Mike should fall somewhere in the middle of those two; $14MM-$17MM seems reasonable.

All of that being said though, "Brave" from last week will probably be in strong competition for the overall top spot again. It made $66MM last weekend, and we can expect about a 40% drop for week-two Pixar films. That would put its total right around $38MM this weekend. That feels about right, and should give it just enough to out-gross "Ted". "Madagascar 3" should still be able to hang around with $10MM-ish this weekend as well. 

But that's what we're looking at this weekend. It's an odd assortment of films, I know, but with what will be available, which film(s) will you be heading to the theater for?