Gravity Makes Way for Johnny Knoxville’s Bad Grandpa at Weekend Box Office

Gravity Makes Way for Johnny Knoxville's Bad Grandpa at Weekend Box OfficeParamount’s R-rated comedy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa had a big number one debut this weekend at the North American box office. The Johnny Knoxville comedy pushed three-time champ Gravity down to second place where it inched ever so closer to the $200 million mark. Gravity and Grandpa had no problems holding off the other wide release of the weekend, the Fox thriller The Counselor, which stumbled out of the gate in fourth place.

MTV’s Jackass may have gone off the air years ago, but its popularity hasn’t waned all that much. Three theatrical features released by Paramount over the past decade each were big box office hits, and now the series’ first spinoff feature Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa has kept the franchise going. Budgeted at $15 million and featuring only one member of the Jackass gang (Johnny Knoxville), the Borat-esque Bad Grandpa pranked its way to a $32 million estimated gross in its first three days on 3,336 screens. The opening was roughly 35% lower than Jackass 3D’s $50 million opening in 2010, but that opening was helped somewhat by higher-priced 3D tickets. Bad Grandpa scored a 62% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a “B” CinemaScore rating.

It had to happen someday: Gravity came down to earth and is no longer the number one film in the country. Even though the Alfonso Cuaron blockbuster dropped a spot to second place, it continues to do superb business. In its fourth weekend of release, Gravity eased a mere 32% to earn an estimated $20.3 million from 3,707 theaters. This weekend’s haul has brought the Warner Brothers blockbuster just below the $200 million mark ($199.8 million, to be precise). Given the durability of the movie in light of new competition each week, Gravity should be able to continue to make its presence known well into the late fall. The movie is still on course to earn at least $260 million in North America with overseas totals matching or perhaps even surpassing that total. Currently, the movie has earned $164 million with several big markets yet to debut it.

Another film that should be around for a while is Sony’s Captain Phillips. Displaying the second best hold in the top ten this weekend, the Tom Hanks drama eased a slight 28% in its third weekend to bring in $11.8 million from 3,143 theaters. After three weeks, the $55 million production has earned a solid $70 million and should reach $110-115 million by the end of its run. If year-end award ceremonies show Captain Phillips some love, that total should go higher.

In fourth place this weekend was the second wide release of the weekend, the Fox drug smuggling drama The Counselor. Directed by Ridley Scott, written by Cormac McCarthy and starring a talented ensemble featuring the likes of Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz, The Counselor had the cinematic pedigree to be something special for movie fans.

Unfortunately, the final product was anything but special. Fox gave the film the most modest of advertising campaigns and withheld it from the press until a few days prior to opening, both of which are never good signs. Once the review embargo was lifted the day before release, the toxic feedback (35% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) began to take its toll. The “D” (most likely standing for “dreadful”) CinemaScore rating from ticket buyers wasn’t anything to celebrate either. Limping onto 3,044 screens, The Counselor could only manage $8 million in its first three days.

Fox had better luck with its other film featuring Pitt and Fassbender (albeit in supporting roles) that is currently in release: Steve McQueen’s acclaimed historical drama 12 Years a Slave. The Chiwetel Ejiofor feature expanded to 123 screens but made its way into the top ten this weekend. Landing in eighth place, Slave earned a great $2.1 million for a per-screen average of $17,480. After two weeks of limited release, the future Oscar contender has earned $3.4 million and should see its good fortunes continue well into awards season and beyond.

Rounding out the top five this weekend was Sony’s other leggy hit Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 with an estimated $6.1 million from 3,111 screens. After five weeks, the 3D feature has crossed the $100 million mark and is still on course to match the $124 million final total of the 2009 original.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

6. Carrie (2013) (Sony) $5.9 million (-63%); $26 million

7. Escape Plan (Lionsgate) $4.3 million (-56%); $17.4 million

9. Enough Said (Fox Searchlight) $1.5 million (-11%); $13 million

10. Prisoners (Warner Brothers) $1 million (-49%); $59.1 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of Ender’s Game, the animated feature Free Birds and the comedy Last Vegas. Watch for Ender to give Bad Grandpa a run for the number one position.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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