Bad Grandpa Grounds Gravity; Counselor Disappoints
By John Hamann
October 27, 2013
The hopes for a Gravity four-peat are dashed, as one of the best films of the year is ironically beat at the box office by a film that is barely even a movie, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.
Yes, Johnny Knoxville and friends took down Sandra Bullock and George Clooney this weekend, but not by as much as previous iterations of Jackass would have. The first Jackass movie came out in October 2002, and was released over the same October weekend as Bad Grandpa was this year. That first Jackass started it all, as it earned more than four times its budget over opening weekend ($22.8 million opening versus a $5 million budget). It finished with about $65 million in domestic dollars, and earned $15 million overseas before international grosses were the big thing. Earning 16 times its budget, the take from that original Jackass paid for all of the rest that followed. Those included Jackass: Number Two, which opened to $29 million and had worldwide earnings of $85 million against a budget of $11.5 million, and Jackass 3D, which exploded with a $50.4 million opening and had a worldwide gross of $171.7 million, all compared to a financial outlay of $20 million. The Jackass team also released Jackass 2.5 direct to home video and likely earned more millions, as 2.5 was basically outtakes from Number Two. These guys know how to make money – they spent $36.5 million and earned $337 million, and that’s before we get to the profits from Bad Grandpa.
Eleven years after the first Jackass film was released, along comes Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, with the team behind these films growing up, as this one actually has some semblance of a plot. Bad Grandpa puts Johnny Knoxville into octogenarian makeup and teams him up with the young Jackson Nicholl (the two both appeared in Fun Size), with MTV Films and Paramount hoping this divergence from the normal formula doesn’t put Jackass fans off. The move worked for the most part – Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa opened to $32 million, after a Friday gross of $12.6 million (which included $1.4 million from Thursday previews) kick-started the weekend. Given the $15 million budget for Bad Grandpa, it is safe to say that the Jackass formula still works. Paramount was looking for a $20 million opening, as the studio provided the usual lowball estimate, while tracking actually got it mostly right, as the estimate had the film “approaching $30 million."
With Jackass movies, opening night is the key, as they open big and have a tendency to trail off following. The first Jackass had an opening Friday of $9.72 million, earned an extremely low 2.34 internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross – and an indication of front loading), and finished the weekend with $22.8 million. The rest of the series followed the same model, with Jackass: Number Two carrying a 2.46 multiplier, and Jackass 3D a 2.28 multiplier. Given that Bad Grandpa had a plot, would that change things? It was slightly better, but only just.