Box office: ‘Jackass 3D’ blows up the competition with $50-million opening

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Ten years and three movies after the controversial and scatological series debuted on MTV, ‘Jackass’ is grossing out more people than ever.

‘Jackass 3D’ opened in theaters this weekend to a phenomenal $50 million, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures, destroying pre-release expectations and its competition. The Bruce Willis action movie ‘Red,’ the only other new picture in nationwide release, started off with a decent but not great $22.5 million.


Rather than showing a decline in interest given its appeal to young audiences who might not even remember the original cable series, ‘Jackass 3-D’ sold more tickets than 2006’s ‘Jackass 2,’ even accounting for ticket price inflation and the surcharge on most of its tickets that were sold for 3-D screens.

The compilation of outrageous stunts starring Johnny Knoxville and his regular crew, who this time played tetherball with a beehive and launched a port-a-potty 120 feet into the air, enjoyed the highest opening for any film since mid-July, when ‘Inception’ debuted to $62.8 million.

But unlike that costly summer tentpole, and most films that open to more than $50 million, ‘Jackass 3-D’ was an inexpensive production, costing only about $20 million. As such, it’s sure to be a financial windfall for Paramount, and is likely to gross well more than $100 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Its box-office reign, however, is likely to be short. Ticket sales dropped a sizable 23% from Friday to Saturday, demonstrating that after a huge rush of young moviegoers on opening day, momentum is already slowing. In addition, unless it bucks the trend of the last two ‘Jackass’ movies, ‘3D’ is unlikely to do much business overseas. With ‘Red’ meanwhile, which also stars Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren, distributor and financier Summit Entertainment is hoping for a much slower burn. While its opening wasn’t huge, ticket sales rose 26% from Friday to Saturday and audiences gave the picture an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Combined with the fact that it drew a mostly older crowd, albeit one more balanced between men and women than had been expected, there’s reason to believe that ‘Red’ will play well for several weeks.

Ideally, Summit is hoping that ‘Red’ performs like another older-skewing action movie, ‘The Town,’ which opened to $23.8 million and is now, after five weekends, at a strong $80.6 million.

‘Red,’ based on a DC comic book, cost $60 million to make after the benefit of tax credits.


Among movies that opened last weekend, ‘Secretariat’ had a sensational second lap, with ticket sales down just 25% at $9.5 million. That’s the smallest second weekend decline for any movie this year, albeit not enough to turn the inspirational drama into a hit after its soft start.

Romantic comedy ‘Life As We Know It’ also had a good hold after a so-so debut, dropping 37% to $9.2 million.

In limited release, the new Clint Eastwood-directed drama ‘Hereafter,’ starring Matt Damon, had a strong debut of $231,000 at six theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Toronto. (The movie debuts nationwide this Friday.) Its per-theater average of $38,426 is similar to that of Eastwood’s ‘Changeling’ at a handful of theaters in October 2008. That drama starring Angelina Jolie went on to gross $35.7 million.

The new Hillary Swank drama ‘Conviction,’ based on an inspirational true story, opened to a not-so-impressive $110,000 at 10 theaters.

[Updated at 11:14 a.m.: The John Lennon biopic ‘Nowhere Boy’ was a flop on its second weekend as it expanded from four to 215 theaters and collected just $353,259.

Overseas, the animated hit ‘Despicable Me’ opened in Great Britain and Italy to $6.9 million and $4.3 million, respectively. Those are solid starts, though nowhere close to the phenomenal numbers for such animated blockbusters as ‘Toy Story 3’ and ‘Shrek Forever After.’ In Germany, its ticket sales actually rose slightly on its third weekend to $3.8 million, a sign of very strong word-of-mouth. Universal Pictures’ first computer-generated animated film is at $168.6 million internationally and will likely ultimately approach its $247-million domestic total.


‘The Social Network’ opened in several major European countries, starting off with a solid but not spectacular $3.9 million in Great Britain and $3.6 million in France, but a less impressive $1.7 million in Spain. Now in 18 foreign markets, the movie’s foreign total after two weekends is $17.3 million.

‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ opened No. 1 in China with $2.2 million, raising the movie’s international total to $49.4 million. Director Oliver Stone’s followup to his 1986 classic look at finance and greed this weekend boosted its total international ticket sales higher than its domestic total.

[Updated at 1:42 p.m.: ‘Legend of the Guardians’ had a weak opening of just $1.2 million in Germany.]

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates and, along with international grosses when available:

1. ‘Jackass 3D’ (Paramount): Opened to $50 million.

2. ‘Red’ (Summit): Opened to $22.5 million.

3. ‘The Social Network’ (Sony/Relativity): $11 million on its third weekend, down 29%. Domestic total: $63.1 million. $12.8 million overseas in 18 foreign markets. International total: $17.3 million.

4. ‘Secretariat’ (Disney): $9.5 million on its second weekend, down 25%. Domestic total: $27.5 million.

5. ‘Life As We Know It’ (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow): $9.2 million on its second weekend, down 37%. Domestic total: $28.9 million. $4.3 million overseas in 10 foreign markets. International total: $7.1 million.

6. ‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole’ (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow): $4.2 million on its fourth weekend, down 39%. Domestic total: $46 million. $9.5 million overseas in 46 foreign markets. International total: $41.6 million.


7. ‘The Town’ (Warner Bros./Legendary): $4 million on its fifth weekend, down 37%. Domestic total: $80.6 million. $5.8 million overseas in 21 foreign markets. International total: $26.3 million.

8. ‘My Soul to Take’ (Relativity/Rogue/Universal): $3.2 million on its second weekend, down 54%. Domestic total: $11.9 million.

9. ‘Easy A’ (Sony Screen Gems): $2.7 million on its fifth weekend, down 38%. Domestic total: $52.3 million.

10. ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ (Fox): $2.4 million on its fourth weekend, down 49%. Domestic total: $47.9 million. $7.3 million overseas in 60 foreign markets. International total: $49.4 million.]

-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: Johnny Knoxville and a bull in ‘Jackass 3D.’ Credit: Sean Clivers / Paramount Pictures. Bottom photo: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren in ‘Red.’ Credit: Frank Masi / Summit Entertainment