Maybe it was just the stress of watching astronauts in peril for three weekends straight, but apparently movie-goers are ready for some comic relief.
If preliminary weekend box office estimates are any indication, the folks over at Viacom's (NASDAQ: VIAB ) Paramount Pictures are smiling big today as Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa looks set to potentially bring in an impressive $25 million during its weekend debut.
What's more, Bad Grandpa is also primed to come out ahead of Gravity from Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX ) Warner Bros, which itself is still expected to earn a solid $20 million when all is said and done this weekend. In short, that means Bad Grandpa will likely become the first movie to oust the lost-in-space thriller from its three-weekend reign atop the box office heap.
No Tears for Time Warner
But don't feel bad for Time Warner. After all, going into this weekend Gravity had already pulled in nearly $294 million in worldwide box office receipts, albeit with a lofty production budget of $100 million. What's more, Gravity also managed to set the all-time record for the highest-ever October opening weekend, and its staying power even elicited an intriguing comparison by one of my colleagues to the record-holding box office juggernaut that is Avatar.
Will Bad Grandpa boast the same resilience in the coming weeks as its stellar competitor? Probably not, especially considering its quasi-predecessor in Jackass: The Movie saw follow-up weekend gross sales plummet at least 44% in each of its second, third, and fourth weeks in theaters, after winning its own October 2002, weekend opening with a decent $22.7 million box office take.
In addition, remember Ender's Game and Thor: The Dark World are slated to hit the big screen on Nov. 1 and Nov. 8, respectively, so it seems a safe bet most other films will at least temporarily take a backseat to these widely anticipated box office blogckbusters.
That said, even at this point it seems safe to say Bad Grandpa already looks like a success given its comparatively minuscule production budget of just $15 million. Of course, they'll also need to take into account prints and advertising expenses, and weekend box office sales certainly don't translate dollar-for-dollar to the studio's bottom line. However, there's still plenty of time left in Bad Grandpa's theatrical run for it to at least try and drive up the score, while future digital and physical media sales should make this risque project more than worthwhile for everybody involved.
Finally, let's also not forget there was another notable new contender this weekend in The Counselor from News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWS ) subsidiary 20th Century Fox. Unfortunately, initial estimates indicate the star-studded Ridley Scott drama -- which, to its credit, cost just $25 million to produce -- is on pace for a dismal $10 million weekend debut.
Does that make The Counselor a terrible movie? Not necessarily. If anything, though, Bad Grandpa's pending weekend victory goes a long way toward proving audiences occasionally just need a good laugh.
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