Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa - $32.0 million
2. Gravity - $20.3 million
3. Captain Phillips - $11.8 million
4. The Counselor - $8.0 million
5. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 - $6.1 million
6. Carrie - $5.9 million
7. Escape Plan - $4.3 million
8. 12 Years a Slave - $2.1 million
9. Enough Said - $1.5 million
10. Prisoners - $1.0 million
The Big Stories
Tom Hanks and the pirates of Somalia. A remake of a horror classic out in front of Halloween. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger paired up for a whole movie for the first time. Not even Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt could do it. Nope, as it turned out it took Johnny Knoxville and his prosthetic old man balls to unseat Gravity from the top spot at the box office. Even the enticement of Cameron Diaz screwing the windshield of a car could not do it, but we knew this already. It had been three weeks. No one had held the number-one slot for that long since The Hobbit. No one had done it for four weeks since The Hunger Games. Catching Fire should have three strong weeks at number one before falling to, well, The Hobbit. Box office can be a vicious circle sometimes, which brings us back to Jackass.
Jackass Presents Borat (w/special guest Little Miss Sunshine)
If Paramount had its way it would release a Paranormal Activity and Jackass film every year. Of course, one of those series requires a little more effort, dedication and thought to create. (Hint: It's not the Paranormal franchise.) Case in point, the studio has TWO Activity films opening in 2014 starting in January with The Marked Ones trying to grab a piece of the newfound demographic that helped make Instructions Not Included a big hit. Then again in October with an official Paranormal Activity 5. Looks like we are burying the lede here but the combined production budgets of these seven released films ($64.5 million) is just a third of what it cost Paramount to make this year's Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z individually. And why shouldn't the studio? Look at the grosses on these things
Jackass: The Movie ($5 million budget/$79.4 million worldwide), Jackass 2 ($11.5/$84.6), Jackass 3D ($20/$171.6), Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa ($15/$32 million and counting)
Paranormal Activity ($15,000/$193.3), Paranormal Activity 2 ($3/$177.5), Paranormal Activity 3 ($5/$207.0), Paranormal Activity 4 ($5/$142.8)
And so we come to the makers of Jackass doing a few stunts and some outrageous hidden-camera stuff while trying to awkwardly shoehorn in an actual plot. Just about the funniest stuff in the film was already in the trailer -- including the bit lifted nearly wholesale from Little Miss Sunshine. But that advertising was everywhere and it paid off. How did it do compared to other comedies this year?
The Hangover Part III ($41.6 million), Grown Ups 2 ($41.5), The Heat ($39.1), Identity Thief ($34.5), Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa ($32.0), We're the Millers ($26.5), This Is the End ($20.7), A Haunted House ($18.1), The Internship ($17.3), Scary Movie 5 ($14.1)
If you like more than three comedies on that list then you are a pretty easy laugh. The four movies in front of Bad Grandpa and the two behind it all went on to gross over $100 million in the U.S. Only Jackass 3D managed that feat and it took a $50 million opening to achieve that. It dropped 57.7% in its second weekend though the first two (with starts of $22 and $29 million starts, respectively) dropped a respectable 44.1% and 49.6%. Their opening weekend-to-final gross multipliers have gone down as well from 2.82 to 2.50 to 2.32. That could put Bad Grandpa somewhere around $81 million just stateside and well into profit for Paramount.
Ridley Scott has been spoiled as of late. Actually, he has been spoiled since making Alien and Blade Runner and has rode the mystique of those masterpieces to a career that has not come close to matching their brilliance. Even Ridley Scott fans have to acknowledge a massive dropoff from the number two to number three films on their personal rankings. Since G.I. Jane in 1997, Ridley Scott has only had one of his films not open to $10 million (2006's A Good Year - $3.7 million) Michael Fassbender is not exactly a self-starter at the box office yet despite costarring roles in 300, Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class and Scott's Prometheus. But between the surrounding cast, the promise of a lurid thriller and the rampant commercials for it, to start with less coin than 1989's Black Rain (the Ridley Scott/Michael Douglas film, not the Shôhei Imamura/Yoshiko Tanaka film) is a real disappointment.
It received a "D" rating through Cinemascore. The only other film to garner less than a "C-" all year has been Movie 43. The studio has had a profitable year thanks to hits The Croods, The Heat, A Good Day to Die Hard and The Wolverine -- enough to cover flops like Turbo, Broken City and The Internship. Though only costing a reported $25 million, its fortune must be made overseas for Fox to not have a potential third-straight loser on its hands after Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Runner Runner. With only The Book Thief, Walking with Dinosaurs and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty left on its 2013 schedule, it may be a close call for Fox to remain in the black this year.
Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
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