Big names won't always sell a movie. Sometimes, a ridiculously outrageous concept is all it takes.
"Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" rode that shopping cart right over the competition over the weekend, staving off retirement to the tune of $32 million. That figure was at the very high end of box office projections going into the weekend. Audiences have been watching Johnny Knoxville fall down in public since "Jackass" premiered on MTV nearly 14 years ago, and there are no signs of exhaustion from the moving going public as of yet.
"Bad Grandpa" spotlights the wildly inappropriate senior citizen, played by the 42-year-old actor with the aid of heavy makeup and prosthetics, seen previously in the very successful "Jackass" movies. The hard work and self-abuse paid off: "Bad Grandpa" was made for just $15 million and has already made $40 million around the world.
The likes of Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz just couldn't compete over the weekend, even with Ridley Scott in the director's chair and a script from Cormac McCarthy for "The Counselor." Most reviews were unkind, and audiences failed to warm to the story, as well. The crime thriller opened at #4 with just $8 million. Pitt, Fassbender and the crew are at least in good company: Justin Timberlake, Arnold Schwarzenegger and other big stars also watched their October movies bomb.
The entrance of "Bad Grandpa" meant "Gravity" finally had to surrender the top spot, after an extremely impressive run at #1. The sci-fi blockbuster earned another $20 million over the weekend, putting its domestic total just under $200 million. It's now the biggest film ever for George Clooney and sits behind only 2009's "The Blind Side" on Sandra Bullock's all-time box office scorecard.
Tom Hanks' Oscar hopeful "Captain Phillips" was #3 in as many weeks with $11.8 million. The real-life pirate drama has earned over $70 million domestically and boasts a worldwide total sure to cross $100 million over the next week or so. It won't touch the success of the "Toy Story" franchise and plenty of other big Hanks movies, but it seems likely to score some trophies come award season.
Speaking of Oscar buzz, "12 Years a Slave" cracked the Top 10 as it expanded over the weekend. The period drama is now in 123 theaters; by comparison, "Bad Grandpa" played in 3,336 and "Gravity" is still in 3,707. "12 Years a Slave" has made $3.4 million in limited release over the past two weeks, $2.1 million of that over the weekend. The movie counts Fassbender, Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch (whose own "The Fifth Estate" bombed earlier this month) among its ensemble, so they need not despair.
Kid-friendly "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" rounded out the Top 5 with $6.1 million, putting it just past $100 million. After five weeks, the sequel is just $25 million shy of the total domestic run of its 2009 predecessor, which opened on less screens.