Led by three strong films at the top, this usually soft pre-Halloween weekend top 10 soared to around $93 million, up from $75 million last year. With Paramount's "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" at #1 with a strong $32 million, and both "Gravity" and "Captain Phillips" holding well, moviegoers are showing interest in a select number of films.
Several weak offerings--among them Fox's "The Counselor," which dropped to the low end among Ridley Scott's recent films, and recent openings "The Fifth Estate" and "Machete Kills," which dipped far below the top 10 -- allowed Fox Searchlight with far fewer theaters to place two films in the top tier. The surprisingly strong "12 Years a Slave" placed #8 in only 123 theaters while sturdy women's picture "Enough Said" is having a longer life than earlier grosses suggested.
Among limited openings, IFC's much-discussed NC-17 Cannes prize-winner "Blue Is the Warmest Color" took in $101,000 in only four New York/Los Angeles theaters, strong for a subtitled film even before the challenge of a three hour running time. More on this in Arthouse Audit shortly.
1. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Paramount) NEW - Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 54
$32,000,000 in 3,336 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $9,592; Cumulative: $32,000,000
Veering from the previous "Jackass" formula of episodic gross-out stunts of the "can you top this" variety to creating a storyline of sorts (co-written by producer Spike Jonze, normally associated with tonier efforts like the forthcoming "Her"), this comedy about an 86-year-old granddad on the road with his 8-year-old grandson rose above expectations to score a solid #1 this weekend. Still full of raunchy pranks and unsuspecting bystanders (it doesn't stray far from the formula) and starring a heavily-made-up Johnny Knoxville, it didn't equal the surcharged enhanced "Jackass 3D" three years ago (which opened to $50 million), but outpaced the first two by some distance. Most importantly for box office watchers, it managed to bring back the younger male audience that has stayed away most of the fall and helped to contribute to a rare recent good-sized top 10 uptick.
Economically made by director Jeff Tremaine (veteran of the other entries) for $15 million, the shocker is that this marks Paramount's sixth release of 2013--and their first since "World War Z" in June. To their credit, three of their releases did pass $100 million (and more worldwide), while the other two were lower budget fare. All, including "Grandpa," were moneymakers, suggesting that they are maximizing their efforts even as they release fewer films. But that's a lot of pricey overhead. The studio also lost one more 2013 slot as they pushed one big potential moneymaker into 2014, the newest Tom Clancy franchise reboot, "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," starring Chris Pine, to make room for Martin Scorsese's delayed "The Wolf of Wall Street." Other las quarter releases include "Nebraska," "Anchorman 2," and "Labor Day."
What comes next: This isn't likely to get near $100 million (the previous films failed to triple their opening weekends), but the initial take is plenty to make all involved happy.
2. Gravity (Warner Bros.) Week 4 - Last weekend #1
$20,300,000 (-32%) in 3,707 theaters (-113); PSA: $5,476; Cumulative: $199,814,000
Down less than a third again (a much better than average hold), $8 million more than "Argo," which was #1 last year on the same weekend, and about to pass $200 million, "Gravity" finally fell from #1 after three weekends. When international reports, the worldwide total should be somewhere around $350 million with several important territories yet to open.
What comes next: "Enders Game" has a claim on many of the prime IMAX screens that have bolstered "Gravity"'s gross and presentation, but nothing should prevent this blockbuster from continuing on most other screens through the lucrative Thanksgiving weekend.
3. Captain Phillips (Sony) Week 3 - Last weekend #2
$11,800,000 (-28%) in 3,143 theaters (+123); PSA: $3,754; Cumulative: $70,074,000
This held even better this weekend than last, as word of mouth continues to boost the fortunes of this Tom Hanks-starring Somali pirate thriller. Last weekend dropped 36%. This boosted its theater count, but the hold comes mainly from continued strong audience reaction amid a lack of competition from other new films.