Johnny Knoxville‘s raunchy comedy “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” was heading for an easy win at the box office, after a $12.6 million Friday debut put it on pace for a $30 million weekend.
That will end the three-week run of “Gravity,” the Sandra Bullock-George Clooney space epic, which was in second and looking at a $22 million fourth week after taking in $6.1 million Friday. The 3D-fueled Warner Bros. blockbuster is up to $185 million domestically and is over $300 million worldwide.
The Tom Hanks piracy drama “Captain Phillips” was third, ahead of the weekend’s other wide opener, the Ridley Scott-directed “The Counselor.” The Fox legal thriller brought in $3.2 million Friday and is on pace to finish with around $9 million, at the low end of expectations that were low to begin with.
Mature fare has dominated the box office of late, and Oscar hopefuls “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips” continued to hold well. Director Alfonso Cuaron’s space saga was off just 32 percent from last Friday and the modern-day piracy tale was down just 28 percent at $3.6 million.
But moviegoers, who haven’t seen a broad comedy in the marketplace since summer’s “We’re the Millers,” were ready for the R-rated hidden-camera romp. In “Bad Grandpa,” 86-year-old Irving Zisman (Knoxville) goes on a “Borat”-like journey across America with his eight-year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll).
Audiences gave it a decent “B” CinemaScore and that, combined with a solid 62 percent positive Rotten Tomatoes, should translate to a strong Saturday and Sunday for “Bad Grandpa.”
If it does hit $30 million, it will have doubled its production budget in its first three days. The “Jackass” franchise, drawn from creator and star Knoxville’s 2000-2001 MTV show, has been a goldmine for Paramount. The first three movies, also produced on the relative cheap, have brought in $335 million.
Despite a cast includes Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem, and a screenplay by Cormac McCarthy (“No Country for Old Men”), “The Counselor” was disappointing.
The studio had hoped to hit $10 million with the thriller, which was produced for a modest $25 million. But weak reviews – it’s at 36 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes – and an unusually poor “D” CinemaScore look like too much to overcome.
If it doesn’t reach $10 million, it will be the seventh wide release that has failed to hit that mark in the last five weeks. “Don Jon,” “Baggage Claim,” “Runner Runner,” “Machete Kills,” “The Fifth Estate” and “Escape Plan” all came up short in their openings.
Sony movies – “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” and the horror remake “Carrie” — were running fifth and sixth and should finish the three days at around $6 million. “Cloudy,” the only family comedy currently in theaters, crossed $100 million domestically after five weeks and is showing staying power, but the studio had hoped for more from the “Carrie,” especially around Halloween.
Fox Searchlight expanded Oscar hopeful “12 Years a Slave” from 19 to 128 theaters and it brought in $619,000 Friday to crack the top ten. That translates to a $2 million second weekend for the slavery drama, ahead of its nationwide release next weekend.
It was in eighth place, just behind the Sly Stallone-Arnold Schwarzenegger prison break movie “Escape Plan,” and ahead of the romantic comedy “Enough Said” and the kidnap thriller “Prisoners.”