'Ted 2' to light up box office with $50 million opening

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Ticket or Skip It: 'Ted 2'

The summer box office shows no signs of cooling down this weekend, as "Ted 2″ enters a crowded blockbuster field that already boasts "Jurassic World" and "Inside Out."

The bawdy comedy about a teddy bear who enjoys such simple pleasures as bong rips, cold ones and "Law and Order" marathons will likely earn $50 million when it debuts across 3,441 theaters. That's in line with the $54 million that the first "Ted" generated when it hit screens in 2012. The sequel cost $85 million to produce and was co-financed by Media Rights Capital. It brings back stars Seth MacFarlane and Mark Wahlberg, but cycles in Amanda Seyfried for Mila Kunis.

"Ted 2's" likely success continues Universal Pictures' torrid streak at the multiplexes. With the year hovering at midpoint, the studio has already rolled out "Furious 7," "Pitch Perfect 2," "Fifty Shades of Grey" and "Jurassic World," a box office Indominus rex that set new high-water marks for opening weekend receipts.

Even with such a sizable kick-off, "Ted 2″ may not capture the top slot on the box office charts. In its second weekend of release, "Inside Out" is also expected to generate more than $50 million. That's a less than a 50% drop from its $91 million debut, a signal that the story of a teenage girl's emotional life has burrowed into the popular consciousness and won't let go. Previous Pixar films such as "Toy Story 3″ and "Monsters University" have all shown impressive staying power, and "Inside Out" should benefit from ecstatic reviews.

In its third week of release, "Jurassic World's" grosses will clock in at roughly $55 million as "Ted 2″ nibbles at its core audience of younger males.

"The top three could be any combination," said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. "It's going to be a massive weekend overall."

Indeed, with the top three films all looking at $50 million and change, the box office will match the year-ago period when "Transformers: Age of Extinction" bowed to $100 million. Exhibitors and some analysts were skittish as June dawned because ticket sales were not as robust as expected — "Tomorrowland" flopped and "Spy" disappointed — but blockbuster season appears to be back on track. Thanks largely to the success of "Inside Out" and "Jurassic World," the summer box office is tracking more than 12% ahead of 2014's figures. That's in marked contrast to three weeks ago when those numbers were flat.

Most of the business will be carved up between the three multiplex mastodons, but there is one other newbie trying to elbow in on the action: "Max," a heartwarming tale of a military service dog that's pitched at red state denizens and canine lovers. The Warner Bros. release faces stiff competition for the family dollar from "Inside Out" and is eyeing an opening of roughly $10 million. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer financed the $20 million production. "Max" will roll out across 2,850 locations in its inaugural weekend.

In limited release, Warner Bros. will push "Batkid Begins," a documentary about a young cancer survivor who gets his wish to be a superhero for a day, into four theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, while Focus Features will debut "A Little Chaos," a film about a Versailles gardener that mixes horticulture and history, in roughly 80 venues and on-demand platforms.

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