Monday, July 2, 2012
Before a recent screening of Magic Mike, the male stripper movie starring Channing Tatum and directed by Steven Soderbergh, another film critic wondered aloud to me just how successful the movie would be. I told him I thought it would be quite successful based on two themes: female audiences and Tatum.
The weekend box-office performance of Magic Mike returns proved me right, with the R-rated comedy-drama easily outperforming expectations and opening with a nearly $40 million haul. Considering Magic Mike was produced with a budget of only $7 million, that’s a profit four times over. And thus a lesson is learned: Never underestimate the female audience and never underestimate the appeal of Tatum.
It was young female moviegoers who helped make James Cameron’s Titanic the biggest film of all time for more than a decade before Cameron’s Avatar in 2009 took the title away. It’s a lot of the same crowd who struck again with Magic Mike, which drew a 70% female audience. And their reason for flocking to the theaters? Channing Tatum. The former stripper whose life inspired Magic Mike is now a major player in Hollywood. Tatum has a total gross so far of nearly $921 million in combined movie ticket sales at the North American box office. That’s more than action-film star Jason Statham, more than comic-actor Paul Rudd, and about $100 million shy of equaling his Magic Mike costar Matthew McConaughey, who’s been around about a decade longer.
2012 has been a very good year for Tatum. The romantic drama The Vow made $125 million, and the comedy 21 Jump Street made $138 million. His January action-thriller Haywire, also directed by Soderbergh, did underperform, however, with less than $20 million, but it was also budgeted at $30 million, so the losses weren’t significant. Tatum was supposed to appear in the new G.I. Joe movie, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which was scheduled for a June release. In fact, Tatum’s character, Captain Duke Hauser, was killed off early in the film. The rumor has it that test audiences didn’t like his early exit, and that the film is being retooled, in part so Hauser lives to appease Tatum fans.