Magic Mike was looking at a weekend tally in the mid ’40s. But the Saturday income dropped 45% from Friday’s, and now the projection is for $38 million or thereabouts. Apparently Joe & Jane Popcorn, looking for an amusing male-stripper high, didn’t like the serious character stuff or…what, the orange sepia photography?

Universal’s Ted dropped 15% from Friday to Saturday but will still take in $52 million. So what happened apart from the usual U.S. boxoffice scenario of a not-as-good film (i.e., Ted) making more money than the clearly superior competition (i.e., Mike)?

There’s always been a huge aesthetic gap between Serious Film Catholics and casual ticket buyers. The former tend to view Average Joes as not just Adam Sandler-embracing “easy lays” whose tastes are stubbornly unsophisticated, but in some ways “stupid and ineducable,” to quote from “The Film Snob’s Dictionary.” A $5 million indie flick making $38 million over a single weekend is obviously a hugely successful thing, but negative buzz from the above-described sector prevented Mike from hitting the mid 40s. Philistines.

When I was coming out of Ted late Friday night at the Chelsea Clearview I heard three guys talking about Mike, which had also just ended. One guy was complaining that Mike “has no plot.” He apparently meant it had none of the contrivances and complications that constitute a “plot” according to 21st Century standards, but what happens in Mike is all driven by character. Mike has an arc, of course, and the four significant characters start at point A and end up and point J or K. What the hell was that Chelsea Clearview guy looking for? A third-act twist?

You could throw that “no plot” complaint at a lot of films, including Last Tango in Paris and Lawrence of Arabia and three or four hundred others.