By Phil Contrino
We have a movie-themed social experiment to recommend this week.
Walk up to a group of women who are discussing Magic Mike—it shouldn't be hard to find—and follow this script:
"Hey, do you remember the movie Contagion? It's the creepy virus thriller that came out last fall."
Someone in the group is bound to remember at least seeing the trailer.
"Well, Magic Mike is from the same director."
Now soak up the confused looks and walk away.
If you sat down to make a list of directors who were least likely to helm a film about male strippers, Steven Soderbergh would rank close to the top. The 49-year-old Oscar winner is known for socially-aware flicks such as Traffic, Erin Brockovich, The Informant! and Contagion. When he feels like having fun, he directs another sequel to Ocean's 11. Yet all it took was an impassioned pitch by Tatum for Magic Mike on the set of Soderbergh's Haywire to grab the director's interest.
Even though Soderbergh's pedigree is impeccable, Warner Bros. has wisely decided not to focus the marketing campaign for Magic Mike on him. After all, you don't need a degree in marketing to understand that the words "from the director of Traffic and Contagion" don't exactly correspond to a night of escapism at the movies with the girls.
Soderbergh's decision to defy expectations with Magic Mike may end up giving him one of his biggest financial successes. The director's biggest hit—no surprise here—remains Ocean's 11 with $183 million ($257.1 million when adjusted for inflation). He's cracked the $100 million domestic mark four other times: Traffic ($124.1 million/$182.4 million adjusted); Erin Brockovich ($125.6 million/$184.5 million adjusted); Ocean's Twelve ($125.5 million/$160.1 million adjusted) and Ocean's 13 ($117.2 million/$134.9 million adjusted). If Magic Mike turns into the kind of movie that women obsessively see multiple times in theaters, then Soderbergh could be looking at his 6th $100 million film. At the very least, Magic Mike could match—or exceed—Contagion's $76 million domestic haul.
Why are expectations for Magic Mike so high? That's easy: Channing Tatum. 2012 is Tatum's year. In February, The Vow became the go-to choice for couples around the world and it made $194.6 million worldwide thanks to that distinction. One month later, 21 Jump Street rode a wave of glowing reviews—from both critics and casual moviegoers—to take in $195.6 million worldwide. Now, with Magic Mike, Tatum is set to truly capitalize on his status as a sex symbol.
Critics are also on Magic Mike's side. In his 4 star review for Boxofffice, Mark Olsen writes that, "By way of sleight-of-hand, Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike both is and isn't the freewheeling, fun-loving, male stripper extravaganza its trailers peddle." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter compares the film to Boogie Nights in his rave review.
Will a successful theatrical run for Magic Mike make it difficult for Soderbergh to step away from filmmaking? The director has toyed with taking a sabbatical from directing to pursue painting. The strange thing is he isn't acting like a guy who's trying to take a break from his profession. He has The Bitter Pill, a film that examines the dangers of subscription medicine, due out in February 2013. He's also working on an ambitious Liberace biopic with Michael Douglas in the title role.
Soderbergh's diverse career makes him one of the most interesting director's working today. Here's hoping he takes on painting in his spare time between film projects.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Fandango, the nation's leading moviegoer destination, today announced a ticketing agreement with MSN, Microsoft Corp.'s information and entertainment network. This makes Fandango the official online and mobile movie ticketer for MSN Movies (http://movies.msn.com/) and MSN Entertainment (http://entertainment.msn.com). The combined traffic of the MSN sites reaches more than 100 million U.S. users per month (comScore).
"This strategic relationship with MSN delivers Fandango's expansive ticketing capabilities and mobile innovations to millions of additional movie fans across the country," said Rick Butler, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Fandango. "The deal reflects the company's ongoing strategy to provide access to Fandango's broad network of screens and movie content for fans on every platform."
"MSN is a great place for people to get the latest information on the summer's hottest movies, and now thanks to our agreement with Fandango, it's easier than ever for MSN fans to purchase movie tickets via Fandango's network of nearly 20,000 theater screens," said Rob Bennett, General Manager of Entertainment, Video and Sports for MSN.
This collaboration with MSN is the latest in a series of recent announcements demonstrating Fandango's continued momentum. Thanks in part to record-breaking ticket sales for "The Avengers," the company enjoyed its best-selling month of May in its 12-year history with a 47% surge in year-over-year ticket sales and a 29% percent year-over-year increase in monthly site visitors (totaling 34 million). Fandango also significantly expanded its exhibitor reach through deals with AMC Theatres, Regency Theatres and many other chains. In addition, Fandango struck recent partnerships to become the movie ticketing provider for both Yahoo! and AOL's Moviefone, bringing its award-winning apps, reserved seating, and paperless Mobile Ticket scanning to an increasingly larger number of moviegoers across the country.
International Grosses for the weekend of June 22-24, 2012:
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted: $30.1 million from 11,250 locations in 44 countries. International cume = $208.4 million.
Key territories, according to an official statement by Paramount:
Mexico brought in another $3.5M in Madagascar 3's third weekend to continue its #1 ranking at the local box office for the third week in a row, with a drop of mere 31%, lifting its territorial total to a fantastic $20.4M. France added a muscular $3.3M to the pot from 773 cinemas, bringing the territorial total to an estimated $18.5M. After the opening of Pixar's animation Brave, Russia still managed to gather $2.9M from 1284 cinemas, bringing its overall cume to a sensational $42.3M.
In Brazil, Madagascar 3 continues to impress by claiming an estimated $3M from 470 cinemas, pushing the cume to an excellent $22.9M, down only 27% and #1 for the third weekend running. Argentina also maintained a lock on the top spot at the box office for the third consecutive week, grossing a solid $1.8M, a drop of only 31% and bringing cume to a hefty $11M. 500 locations in Korea added $1.6M, a small drop of just 26%, bringing the Korean cume to a robust $8.6M.
Snow White and the Huntsman: $22.6 million from 6,780 locations in 60 territories. International cume = $160.4 million.
Brave: $13.5 million from 10 territories representing 17% of the international market. International cume = $13.5 million.
Prometheus: $12.7 million from 6,911 locations in 61 markets. International cume = $152.9 million.
Men in Black 3: $10.5 million from 75 markets. International cume = $414 million.
UNITED KINGDOM $1.5 (-35%) cume $30.7, #2 in the market.
JAPAN (distributed by Toho-Towa) $1.1 (-60%) cume $35.4.
GERMANY is still planted firmly at #1 for its 5th consecutive week. $.975 (-38%) cume $22.8.
FRANCE $.800 (-36%) cume $17.235.
AUSTRALIA $.520 (-52%) cume $16.7.
MEXICO $.375 (-47%) cume $16.7.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: $8.1 million from 2,656 locations in 17 markets. International cume = $8.1 million.
Dark Shadows: $6.9 million from 3,600 locations in 57 territories. International cume = $143 million.
The Dictator: $4.4 million from 2,186 locations in 37 countries. International cume: $83.2 million.
Rock of Ages: $2.9 million from 2,500 locations in 24 territories. International cume = $8.6 million.
Marvel's The Avengers: $2.3 million from 56 territories representing 95% of the international market. International cume = $837.9 million.