Johnny Knoxville and his "Jackass" gang are even bigger hits in three dimensions.
"Jackass 3D," their latest big-screen collection of crazy stunts and antics, opened with a whopping $50 million, soaring past the debuts of their first two movies, according to studio estimates Sunday.
It was the third-straight No. 1 opening for Paramount's franchise, which launched with a $22.8 million opening for 2002's "Jackass: The Movie" and continued with a $29 million debut for 2006's "Jackass Number Two." This was the first 3-D outing for Knoxville and his pals, and it was a natural for "what they do. They don't use it as a gimmick. It's seamless in their stunts," said Don Harris, Paramount executive vice president for distribution.
"When some guy gets hit in the crotch with a baseball in 2-D, it's one thing, but when he's kind of up in your face and it happens, it's another experience." "Jackass 3D" set a record for biggest October debut, topping the $48.1 million opening weekend for "Scary Movie 3" in 2003.
"Scary Movie 3" sold more tickets than "Jackass 3D," though, factoring in ticket-price inflation and the premium charge for 3-D screenings, which cost a few dollars more than 2-D movies.
Premiering at No. 2 with $22.5 million was Summit Entertainment's action comedy "Red," starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Mary-Louise Parker in the tale of retired black-ops agents targeted by the CIA.
While "Jackass 3D" cornered the market for young crowds, with two-thirds of viewers under 25, "Red" drew an older set, with 58 percent of the audience over 35.
"Between their audience and ours, I think we've covered the spectrum of potential movie-goers this weekend," said Richie Fay, head of distribution for Summit.
"What was amazing about this cast was the chemistry and the obvious fun they had making the movie.
Older guys and women are really capable of doing things more than sitting in rocking chairs and pushing the remote control." Despite the huge opening for "Jackass 3D," Hollywood was unable to pull out of a box-office slide that has persisted this fall.
Overall revenues totaled $133 million, down 4 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Where the Wild Things Are" led with a $32.7 million debut and "Law Abiding Citizen," "Paranormal Activity" and "Couples Retreat" combined to add nearly $60 million to the till.
"When you've got a $50 million gross and still can't eke out a win over the same weekend last year, that says a lot," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com.
"We've been in a slump since Labor Day and even really before that, because we saw kind of a slow end to the summer." So far this year, domestic revenue is at $8.5 billion, 3.2 percent above 2009's record pace.
But adding in higher ticket prices, attendance is down 2.3 percent from 2009, according to Hollywood.com.
Sony's acclaimed Facebook drama "The Social Network," which had been No. 1 the previous two weekends, held up well as it slipped to third-place with $11 million. The film raised its three-week total to $63.1 million.
In limited release, Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon's "Hereafter" opened strongly with $231,000 in six theaters.
That gave it an average of $38,500 a theater, compared with $16,228 in 3,081 cinemas for "Jackass 3D." "Hereafter" follows three characters with unusual connections to the afterlife.
Distributor Warner Bros. expands the film to nationwide release this Friday.
Hilary Swank's legal drama "Conviction," based on the real-life story of a woman who put herself through law school to clear her brother on a murder rap, opened with $110,000 in 11 theaters, for a $10,000 average.
Distributor Fox Searchlight expands "Conviction" to about 70 theaters on Friday.