Box Office Brasserie: Weekend Edition

After three thrilling trips to the top of the box office charts, “Gravity” faces the full weight of Johnny Knoxville, minus his merry band of pranksters, as he draws a skeleton crew together for his latest, “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.”

Director Ridley Scott also brings some heavyweights to multiplexes—Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Michael Fassbender—with Fox’s “The Counselor,” but it’s the Jackass brand that is expected to toppled WB’s sci-fi stunner, as teens and college-aged kids haven’t really had a film to call their own since summer.

While Knoxville’s latest isn’t a traditional “Jackass” film (i.e. grossous maximus), a series which saw each consecutive installment debut significantly higher than the previous, including a boisterous bow of $50M for “Jackass 3D,” it still upholds the same tried and true sophomoric virtues: fart jokes, pratfalls, and copious amounts of potty humor. Otherwise, everything your inner 13-year-old-self craves.

I’m not gonna lie, I don’t think I’ve ever watched anything where my sides actually hurt afterwards and my face felt like it was slightly paralyzed, except for every film in the “Jackass” trilogy. And seeing it in a theater jam-packed with raucous teens is an R-rated experience in itself that’s not to be missed.

It’s no wonder Paramount gave “Jackass” director Jeff Tremaine and producer Spike Jonze $20M and let them go hog-wild with “Bad Grandpa.” I mean, not only is the studio desperate for content, but also, the franchise has grossed (out) $335M worldwide.

Think of “Bad Grandpa” as Borat goes to Jackass-land: An unassuming dirty old codger plays upon unsuspecting non-actors…feeling are hurt, inappropriate behavior runs rampant and someone is kicked in the nut-sack. In other words: hilarity ensues.

Dropping in over 3,000+ theaters this weekend, expect a haul of around $31M, which would place it #1 by a very wide margin, as “Gravity” is expected to be runner-up, pulling in another $18M-$20M, and topping $200M domestic.

“The Counselor” won’t even finish #2? While Scott is known for dashing debuts—“Prometheus,” “Gladiator,” “Hannibal,”—he also has his fare share of dubious duds—“White Squall,” “A Good Year,” and “1492.” His latest, a crime thriller adapted from the quill of Cormac McCarthy, hasn’t been screened for critics, and is tracking below $15M.

It’s surprising that a film loaded with top caliber talent doesn’t have more hype, but this genre is very hit and miss…and “The Counselor” unfortunately looks like the latter: $13M.

Fox Searchlight’s “12 Years a Slave” will expand into 123 theaters this weekend, after finding $923k in 19 theaters in its opening act. Look for a Top 10 debut with around $2.5M-$3M.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1. JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA – $31M
2. GRAVITY – $19M
3. THE COUNSELOR – $13M
4. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS – $10M
5. CARRIE – $8M

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SPLICE OF LIFE“BEETLEJUICE 2” BACK FROM THE DEAD

Yes Lydia, there is an afterlife. Rumors have persisted for quite some time that the “ghost with the most” would be digging out of his grave and returning to haunt movie houses. Well, word on the street has Tim Burton in early discussions with Warner Bros. to direct “Beetlejuice 2” with a script from author Seth Grahame-Smith (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) and David Katzenberg.

Burton and Grahame-Smith previously worked together on “Dark Shadows” and would again pair Burton with his original male muse, Michael Keaton, reprising his signature role some 25+ years after the original. Let’s hope Keaton likes the script, otherwise you and I both know Johnny Depp will slide right in as the long-lost brother of everyone’s favorite bio-exorcist.

Like many others, I’ll admit to having a massive teenage crush on “Beetlejuice” star Winona Ryder back in 1988 through, oh, 2007, until she started taking mommy roles. And yes, I still think “Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael” rules. And no, her getting caught stealing did nothing to diminish my admiration or attraction. Listen, all I’m saying is this: Cuckoo + Klepto = Attainable. That equation checks out…trust me.

Burton basically patented whimsical, weird and irreverent, but he also found a magical, macabre pathway to the heart of oddball characters everywhere. And while I agree, sequels to beloved 80’s films are usually for suckers—“Short Circuit 2,” “Teen Wolf Too,” “Weekend at Bernie’s II” “The Neverending Story II,” “Predator 2,” “Porky’s II” to name a few—I admit, this one has me more psyched than the day I wore my first parachute pants to school…especially if the entire original cast signs on.

Minus Otho (Glenn Shadix), of course, as he has since passed. That said, dying doesn’t necessarily rule you out in this digital age…especially considering the themes present here.

Burton has only done a sequel once, “Batman Returns,” but one could argue that every film he does is a thematic continuation of his previous work. After lackluster flicks like “Dark Shadows,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Sweeney Todd,” a return to his roots might be just what the witchdoctor ordered.

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”

Ron Burgundy and Co. take their ‘staches and talents (i.e. penchant for oppressive male chauvinism) from sunny San Diego to the Big Apple. As always, Will Ferrell is an equal opportunity offender…and that should please everyone…especially Dodge Durango owners. Let’s get weird, people.

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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Lead-in Art Credits

Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Poster design by BLT Communications LLC