Despite summer after summer of evidence that women can be one of the most potent demographic slices at multiplexes, Hollywood keeps being surprised when pictures like “Sex & the City” and “Bridesmaids” and, now, “Magic Mike” do much better business than their pre-opening polling indicates.
Although the buzz among my women friends for the latest Channing Tatum vehicle was intense — I assumed it would do terrific girls’ night out business — the trade press has used that hilarious term “overperformed” for the close to $40 million three-day opening weekend gross for “Magic Mike.”
The immediate success of the picture also demonstrated the fact that women will go to R-rated comedies as readily as men. Indeed, I think it was the promise of strong adult humor at “Bridesmaids” and “Magic Mike” that became major selling points.
It was great fun to see “Magic Mike” on 42nd Street in Manhattan Saturday night with an audience that was made up almost entirely of women. The crowd was in a party mood that Steven Soderbergh’s highly entertaining look at male strippers in Florida sustained for two hours.
Early in the film, Soderbergh pulls off one of the funniest and raunchiest sight gags in modern movies when we see one of the dancers getting ready for a performance in a Tampa night club.
The director took a big risk with the shot in question — it’s probably a small miracle that he finessed an R-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America — but I haven’t heard such explosive laughter at any other movie this year.
“Magic Mike” might not play well to the teenage boys Hollywood courts so relentlessly every summer — and at such great cost – but Warner Bros. is going to make a fortune from the $7 million it paid to pick up Soderbergh’s independently produced gem.