Weekend box office: “Jackass 3D,” a big win for creative stupidity; “RED” a smaller win for chronological maturity

Back on Thursday night, we were talking about a possible $30 million or more for the latest from the usual gang of self-declared prankster-daredevil idiots, “Jackass 3D.” Well, one quick look at the Box Office Mojo’s chart will show you that it turned out to be an estimated $50 million. Considering the film only cost $20 million, that’s a pretty great start, even with a rather large possible second week attendance crash.

No doubt a lot of “Jackass”-generated cash for Paramount — a new record for this time period, though with constant inflation of movie tickets, even in a stagnant economy, I’m never too impressed by these constantly broken records — comes directly from the 3D bump. It seems clear that the format can still make a big difference for the right movie, and this is obviously a special case. Regular readers know I was born without the gene that makes people enjoy the feeling of being grossed out, but even I get that if seeing something, or someone, squirt out of an orifice in 2D is hilarious, then watching it/him practically fly into your lap in 3D must be completely hysterical. The only fly in the stinky ointment here is that inevitable R-rating. I can only imagine how many younger, mostly male, teenagers and tweens are trying to figure out how they can scam their way into a theater (and the correct glasses) or begging older relatives and/or paying neighborhood winos to take them.

Meanwhile, the cleverly conceived idea of having older actors do what younger actors usually do has proven itself with “RED.” Like “The Expendables” with Oscar winners, the PG-13 action comedy is “tracking” in all of those “quadrants” Hollywood people like to talk about according to Nikki Finke. Not “Jackass” well, but $22 million estimated.

Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Morgan Freeman show they've got it in Since the film is tracking best, according to La Finke, with over-30 males, who may take longer to see the movie, it’s reasonable to assume that this week’s #2 film will continue to make money for some time. She also notes that, while the film has a $58 million budget, Summit paid less than $20 million of it, sharing the costs/profits with overseas distributors. That’s good because they’ve already made all their money back, sans marketing costs. On the other hand, I have a feeling “RED” will be very profitable worldwide. A long time ago I worked in a foreign film sales office and the two things we were told the international audience wanted was a strong, simple story and big stars. Action was good, too. Finke mentions that, even though “RED” is based on DC comic book, they’re parent company of Warner Brothers turned down the film, perhaps based on the assumption that a movie dominated with one fifty-something superstar and a bunch of septuagenarian and sexagenarian near superstars couldn’t possibly do well. Big mistake

It’s also worth noting that both of this week’s new movies got decent-to-good reviews. Of course, in the case of “Jackass 3D,” us non-gross-out friendly types have learned to stay away by now. I also have to admit that even I, however, note the presence in the cast of ex-skateboarder and sometime performer Spike Jonze, who in his other life is one of the best film directors around. If I only enjoyed watching people eating things that people should never, ever eat.

In the third and fourth spots, both “The Social Network” and “Secretariat” are holding extremely well. The Aaron Sorkin/David Fincher Facebook flick dropped only by 28.8% in its third weekend for an estimated $11 million. The Randall Wallace-directed tale of a very talented horse rebounded a bit from its unspectacular opening by dropping only a minimal 25% for an estimated gross of just over $9.5 million.

Among limited releases, not at all surprisingly, “Hereafter” did extremely well. Considering that the movie is the second pairing of actor Matt Damon and director Clint Eastwood, it’s a bit of a big-fish/small pond situation with the film easily getting the week’s best per-screen average — $38,500 — for a total of 231,000 in six theaters.

At the other end of the scale, the subject of my Thursday rant, ex-secret Tea Partier Ray Griggs’ “I Want Your Money” didn’t get very much of your money. It also likely won’t be having a major influence on the congressional election, nor will do a whole lot for the career of Griggs’ — who does a Michael Moore-style on-camera turn in the film. In 537 theaters, the anti-Obama documentary dealing with the issue of the deficit — an issue conservatives coincidentally rediscover is an urgent threat to all we hold dear every time a Democrat gets elected president — suffer a possible financial shortfall of its own, with only $279,000 estimated in grosses. I don’t know exactly how much support Griggs got from the very significant conservative media structure in this country, but that $520 per screen average is not good. It wasn’t the lowest per screen. That was $420 for the ninth week of the low budget horror pic, “Piranha 3D,” which is edging closer to the $26 million mark in theaters. There’s a joke there somewhere, but I’m not seeing it.

  

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