Movie Projector: Bruce Willis gunning for Johnny Knoxville as ‘Red’ opens against ‘Jackass 3-D’


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It looks to be a tight race for the top box-office spot this weekend between a new franchise aimed at older audiences and an older movie series aimed at young ones.

People in the movie industry who have seen pre-release polling say ‘Jackass 3-D,’ the third film in the 8-year-old comedy franchise, has an edge over the Bruce Willis action flick ‘Red,’ but only a small one. Both pictures are expected to have solid debuts, with ‘Red’ taking in about $25 million and ‘Jackass’ headed for around $30 million.


‘Red,’ based on a DC comic book and also starring Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Mary-Louise Parker as a group of retired CIA agents and assassins, is the biggest bet so far made by independent studio Summit Entertainment besides its blockbuster ‘Twilight’ films. The studio spent about $60 million to make ‘Red’ after tax credits. If the picture opens to more than $24.6 million, as appears likely, it would be the highest-ever non-’Twilight’ opening for the 3-year-old studio.

The film’s core audience, according to surveys, is men over 35, with women over 35 moderately interested as well. That gives Summit some reason to be nervous, as middle-aged adults are less likely to rush out to see a picture on its opening weekend than younger people. On the other hand, older moviegoers often come after a picture debuts if word of mouth is good. So ‘Red’ could ultimately sell more tickets than ‘Jackass 3-D’ even if it’s beat by that movie on opening weekend.

The third ‘Jackass’ movie portraying outrageous stunts performed by Johnny Knoxville and pals is tracking similarly to its predecessor ‘Jackass 2,’ which opened to $29 million in 2006. With the benefit of higher ticket prices in 3-D theaters, which make up about 80% of its total runs, the sequel should open to more than $30 million if the same number of fans come.

Because its audience is primarily young men, who usually rush out to see movies they want to see, ‘Jackass 3-D’ seems all but certain to jump out to an early lead above ‘Red’ on Friday. If it opens as well as expected, it should be a financial success for Paramount Pictures, which spent only about $20 million to produce the film.

Many in Hollywood will also be watching Walt Disney Studios’ current release ‘Secretariat’ this weekend. The inspirational horse-racing film opened to a soft $12.7 million last weekend, but the studio is optimistic that strong buzz could lead to a minor drop in ticket sales. It has done relatively healthy midweek business, bringing its total domestic gross to $16.8 million through Wednesday.

In limited release, Warner Bros. opens the new Clint Eastwood-directed drama ‘Hereafter,’ starring Matt Damon, at six theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Toronto. Fox Searchlight debuts the inspirational true story ‘Conviction,’ with Hilary Swank, at 10 theaters in Boston, Chicago, New York and L.A.


-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: John Malkovich, Bruce Willis and Mary-Louise Parker in ‘Red.’ Credit: Frank Masi / Summit Entertainment. Bottom photo: A scene from ‘Jackass 3-D.’ Credit: Sean Cliver / Paramount Pictures