Jackass 3D Surprises Box Office with $50 Million

North American moviegoers were up for some lowbrow pranks this weekend as the Paramount and MTV collaborative sequel Jackass 3D opened to a record-setting bow, while Summit Entertainment’s Red showed some muscle of its own. The two strong debuts led the top ten which included solid holdovers from the likes of The Social Network, Life as We Know It and Secretariat. Yet despite that good news, business remained somewhat flat in comparison to last year at this time.

After debuting on Friday to $21.8 million (including $2.5 million from 12:01 am shows the night before), the Spike Jonze-produced and Jeff Tremaine-directed Jackass 3D went on to make an estimated monstrous $50 million from 3,081 screens. The 2,452 3D equipped screens and their higher priced tickets not only helped give the film the franchise’s biggest debut (the original opened to $22.8 million and the second scored $29 million in its first three days), it also helped score a record opening for any film released during the month of October.

Produced for $20 million, Jackass 3D has been extensively promoted on MTV (you expected PBS?) over the past several weeks, including some serious plugs on the MTV reality hit Jersey Shore. And while the Jackass series isn’t one that lives or dies by critical reviews, the third chapter actually received a fair amount of positive feedback, scoring a respectable (remember which franchise we’re talking about) 65% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis and John Malkovich helped Summit Entertainment score a hit with the action comedy Red, earning a solid $22.5 million from 3,225 screens in its first three days. Based on the DC Comics graphic novel series from Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, the Robert Schwentke-directed film about retired assassins forced back in the game was the rare DC property made by a studio other than Warner Brothers. After its big opening and a good 70% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m sure the WB is scratching its head as to why they passed over this project but opted to produce Jonah Hex instead. That Josh Brolin and Megan Fox vehicle cost more to make and grossed less than half of the weekend opening for Red.

Box office champ for the past two weekends, Sony’s critically-acclaimed The Social Network, had another strong weekend. It eased a slight 28% to an estimated $11 million in ticket sales for a new three-week total of $63.1 million. The film is on track to become director David Fincher’s third $100 million earner following 1995’s Seven and 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

It may have debuted weakly, but Disney’s sports drama Secretariat held up remarkably well in its sophomore session to land in fourth place. Off a mere 25%, the best hold of any film in the top ten this weekend, the Diane Lane and John Malkovich drama earned $9.5 million to bring its ten-day total to $27.5 million. Strong word-of-mouth from those who did see the movie last weekend greatly helped sustain the movie this weekend. If that type of support continues, Secretariat could see its grosses reach the $50-60 million range.

Also holding up well in fifth place following a weak debut is Warner’s domestic dramedy, Life As We Know It, which eased a moderate 37% for a $9.2 million estimated weekend haul and a new ten-day take of $28.8 million. Benefiting from better word-of-mouth than her last movie, Killers, the Katherine Heigl film should see its way to the $45-50 million mark by the end of its run.

In sixth place with a $4.2 million weekend was another Warner film, Legends of the Guardian: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. The Zack Snyder 3D animated feature has amassed $46 million to date and should finish its domestic run around the $55 million mark. Fellow WB release The Town had another good weekend, landing in sixth place with $4 million in estimated sales. Off 37% from last weekend and with approximately $80.5 million in the bank, Ben Affleck’s critically-acclaimed crime drama still has a good shot at joining the $100 million club by the end of its box office run.

Rounding out the top ten were three holdovers. Wes Craven’s 3D horror film My Soul to Take crumbled 53% in its second go around to scare up $3.1 million in estimated sales to bring its ten-day total to a dismal $12 million. The film may finish its run near the $20 million mark. Ninth place went to Emma Stone’s comedy Easy A with $2.7 million in estimated sales. The comedy has amassed $52.3 million to date and may hang around a few more weeks with Stone picking up additional press from being cast in Spider-Man. Rounding out the top ten was Oliver Stone’s fast-fading sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps with $2.4 million in sales for a new overall total of $47.8 million. Without factoring in inflation, the 2010 sequel has now passed the 1987 original in terms of overall grosses. In regards to ticket sales, however, the second film is still quite a ways behind.

Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial feature Hereafter starring Matt Damon made a terrific debut in limited release. Opening on six screens in advance of its October 22 national debut, the movie pulled in $231,000 for a big per-screen average of $38,500.

In addition to the expansion of Hereafter, next weekend will bring the debut of the Paramount sequel Paranormal Activity 2.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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