SUNDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: The most interesting news of the weekend, at least to me, is that New Regency’s financed and produced Best Picture Oscar frontrunner 12 Years A Slave marketed and distributed by Fox Searchlight is only playing in 123 theaters (up from 19 last weekend) yet jumped into the Top Ten. Propelled by critical raves, it’s in 8th place despite Steve McQueen’s unvarnished depiction of mankind’s brutality from John Ridley’s screenplay based on the book by Solomon Northup. The per screen average is $17,400 for a new cume of $3.4M. There still is tremendous curiosity in Hollywood as to this pre-Civil War drama’s box office potential after it opened last weekend with an ‘A’ CinemaScore and an impressive $50,000 per screen averager. Studio says it’s playing well in art houses, African American theaters, as well as in mainstream multiplexes in markets LA, NY, Atlanta, Wash DC, Chicago, Toronto, Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and Detroit. Next week it adds 45 new cities and will increase theater count to over 400 locations across North America. Stellar cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodward, and of course Brad Pitt who’s also starring in one of this month’s worst box office bombs. (See below).
Are there really going to be 86-year-old Irving Zismans (aka Johnny Knoxville in 8 hours worth of industrial-strength makeup) at Halloween parties this weekend? This fourth moronic Jackass movie was outselling R-rated comedies like We’re The Millers and This Is The End at the same point in their online pre-sales cycles. So it was no surprise that Thursday 9 PM late shows and Friday midnight screenings grossed a gigantic $1.4 million and then went into Friday’s $12.6M opening total for Paramount/MTV Films’ Jackass: Bad Grandpa (3,336 theaters). Saturday’s take was down only -5% for $11.5M and a $32M weekend from 3,336 theaters. Hollywood knows never to underestimate the taste of American moviegoers which gave the comedy a ‘B’ CinemaScore. So this crapfest came in an easy #1. “Not bad for a film that cost $15M,” a studio exec tells me. It’s apparently now the 3rd best R-rated comedy opener of the year demonstrating this 2000 MTV-origin franchise isn’t played out. But this gross is far less than 2010’s Jackass 3-D opening weekend of $50.4M.
But internationally Bad Grandpa opened as the highest-grossing release in the Jackass franchise. It was let loose day and date this weekend in the UK and Germany and a number of smaller markets and grossed a healthy $8.1M from 1,014 locations in 16 territories. That’s 3X bigger than the second Jackass opening for the same group of markets and on a par with Jackass 3D despite the fact that Bad Grandpa is a 2D release and a spin-off rather than a straight sequel. In terms of admissions, there were +20% more than for Jackass 3D. The UK delivered $3.2M from 371 sites for the biggest opening for the Jackass franchise. And Knoxville’s geezer scored a big $3.1M from 285 cinemas for the #1 launch as the biggest opening for the Jackass franchise in the market. Other releasing territories: Netherlands $474K at 63 locations, Austria $410K in 50 cinemas, Finland $164K from 69 locations. Australia releases on November 14th.
Zisman’s character previously only perturbed passerbys in brief hidden-camera punk’ds. Here director Jeff Tremaine ages up Knoxville who travels with his grandson to some pretty decent reviews. (Hey, not my problem if critics want to lose more brain matter.) The marketplace was ripe for a raw comedy and Paramount marketed to frat houses around the country. The trailer launched in August on We’re The Millers and TV ads had heavy play on sports channels. At MTV’s VMAs, Knoxville as Zisman and his grandson did shtick then custom vignettes for Spike TV and Comedy Central showed the geezer screening the film at the Playboy mansion with bunnies.
Warner Bros’ Gravity fell from atop the domestic box office for 3 straight weeks to #2 and a still amazing $20.3M weekend and nearly $200M domestic cume through Sunday. In #3 is the Paul Greengrass/Tom Hanks adult drama Captain Phillips entering its 4rd weekend for Sony Pictures with an $11.8M weekend for a new cume of $70M through Sunday.
Twentieth Century Fox’s Ridley Scott vanity project The Counselor (3,044 theaters) only opened #4 to a meager $8M weekend. Studio claims the cost was only $25M. Good thing because audiences gave the derivative drug thriller a dreaded ‘D’ CinemaScore despite a standout cast of Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz in No Country For Old Men author Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay. Not much reason to talk about the film’s marketing or creative plan since Fox ran off the top execs running both departments in recent days. So why did this turkey get made? “Tom Rothman did it for Ridley because he’d made so much money for the studio with Prometheus,” an insider tells me. “But even people who’ve seen it can’t figure out what it’s about.” Ouch! Exit polling showed that the audience was 49%/51% male-female, with 85% aged 25+ and 15% aged 25 or under. “Some good grosses in the big city, core runs where audiences are more likely to be receptive to challenging, provocative filmmaking,” a Fox exec Sunday. “We’re extremely proud of our filmmaker Ridley Scott as well as our phenomenal cast who all came together to make this film for a very reasonable price. We opened in a few international territories this weekend so the end result for our modestly budgeted film is far from being known at this time. But suspect we will be in good shape financially at the end of the day.”
Overall the weekend is $100M, or +15% from last year. Here’s the Top Ten list: