Gravity’s winning streak came to an end this weekend, courtesy of Johnny Knoxville. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa easily claimed first place in its debut with an estimated $32 million from 3,366 locations. Also in its first frame, Ridley Scott’s The Counselor was far less impressive. The Fox thriller took in just $8 million in spite of its A-list cast. Fox Searchlight had better results with 12 Years a Slave. The early Oscar contender earned a spot in the top ten on the strength of just 123 venues.
|5.||Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2||$6,100,000||$100.6|
|8.||12 Years a Slave||$2,150,000||$3.4|
Somehow, when considering the great franchises of the past two decades, the Jackass brand never quite makes the cut. In truth, Jackass probably doesn’t deserve to be counted alongside the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter – four-quadrant series that each earned over $1 billion in domestic sales alone. By comparison, Jackass is a box office bit player. With today’s estimate included, the four Jackass films have earned just under $300 million, which puts the series between American Pie and Final Destination among R-rated franchises of comparable longevity.
Of course, that R-rating is the key distinction that separates Jackass films from the giant franchises. Though the films attract the coveted young-male demographic, they don’t necessarily appeal beyond that audience. With that being said, the Jackass brand has remained remarkably resilient and incredibly profitable. All of the Jackass titles have debuted in first place – quite an achievement considering that twelve years separate Jackass: The Movie and Bad Grandpa.
Back in October 2002, Jackass: The Movie opened with $22.7 million. Four years later, Jackass: Number Two improved upon its predecessor with a $29 million debut. Not surprisingly, neither film did well overseas; but the fact that both were made on micro budgets ($5 million and $11.5 million, respectively) made their domestic success that much sweeter. Then, in 2010, the franchise hit its high note. That October, Jackass 3-D opened with $50.3 million in the US. At the time, that set a new record for an October debut (a record now held by Gravity) and it caught most box office pundits by complete surprise. Jackass 3-D went on to top $100 million in domestic grosses (the only Jackass title to do so) and $54.4 million internationally – more than three times the overseas gross of the first two films.
Along with their reasonable budgets and impressive earnings, Jackass films were also notable for improving their opening totals with each new release. That trend ended this morning but, even though Bad Grandpa failed to top Jackass 3-D’s debut, the numbers are anything but disappointing from Paramount’s perspective. Bad Grandpa is a Jackass outlier. In place of the entire crew, the film features the Johnny Knoxville character Irv Zisman exclusively. Even with “Jackass Presents” in the title, no one believed that Irv would be able to top the series’ 2010 record. $25 million was the most common Bad Grandpa projection: factoring in the loss of 3D revenue and the continued strength of Gravity. Paramount was even more conservative, predicting a debut of less than $20 million. That puts Bad Grandpa ahead of We’re the Millers in terms of recent comedy debuts, though it’s unlikely Jackass 4 will realize the long-term success of the latter.
Though its box office reign officially ended this morning, Gravity is still a box office force to be reckoned with. The worldwide hit declined by just 32% in its fourth frame and brought its domestic total achingly close to $200 million. It also moved up to number nine on the list of 2013’s highest-grossing films, passing The Croods and coming within days of out-grossing World War Z. Worldwide, Gravity has already earned over $120 million, with debuts in big markets including the UK, China and Japan yet to come.
Clearly, Bad Grandpa commanded the most attention this weekend, but it was not the only major new release. 20th Century Fox tried to counterprogram the R-rated comedy with its R-rated thriller The Counselor. On paper, the move made sense. October is a great time to release adult fare and, with the incredible talent assembled in The Counselor, there was no reason to believe it would not supplant Captain Phillips in the top three. Unless you read its reviews. Currently ranked 35% by Rotten Tomatoes, The Counselor is more proof that an A-list cast and crew can still make a really bad movie. Fox was hoping for a debut of just over $10 million but got just $8 million from 3,044 locations instead. On a more positive note, The Counselor cost just $25 million and is likely to see decent numbers internationally, so it is far too early to declare this a bomb.
Along with his starring role in Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, Michael Fassbender makes his second top ten appearance this weekend in 12 Years a Slave. Director Steve McQueen’s historical bio has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and had one of the year’s best limited releases last weekend in just 19 locations. 12 Years a Slave expanded its run to 123 on Friday and took in an estimated $2.1 million. This bodes well for the film’s nationwide release next weekend. It remains to be seen whether good reviews will be enough to lure wider audiences to the film but, at this point, it looks like 12 Years a Slave will at least outperform The Counselor.
Overall box office receipts reached $101 million this weekend: a slight improvement over the same frame last year. Next weekend takes the box office into November and the start of the long, 2013 holiday season. The young adult sci-fi adaptation of Ender’s Game should claim first place with over $25 million, though the animated Free Birds will open in more theatres. Also up next weekend is Last Vegas, starring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman. Those names still command a lot of respect with older audiences but, as The Counselor just proved, names alone don’t ensure a solid opening.