Over the past year, proof that 3-D is remaking the film industry has come in the form of blue aliens, runaway toys, and now, groin injuries. Exhibit A: the beyond-all-expectations $50 million opening weekend for 'Jackass 3D.'
The latest set of cartoonish stunts from Johnny Knoxville and his fellow masochists had been expected to take the top spot at the box office, but maybe to the tune of $25 to $35 million. Instead, 'Jackass 3D's' estimated haul set a new record for an October opening, beating the $48.1 million benchmark set by 'Scary Movie 3' seven years ago. It's also the second-best R-rated comedy opening ever, behind 2008's 'Sex and the City' ($57.0 million). Not too shabby for a franchise that's been absent from the screen for four years, and whose last installment ('Jackass Number Two') opened at $29.0 million.
Summit's action comedy 'Red,' playing in more venues (3,255) than any other current movie, had been expected to give 'Jackass' some close competition. Instead, it settled for a second-place debut with an estimated $22.5 million, a very strong number that might have earned the film a box office crown during most other weekends. In contrast with the juvenile appeal of 'Jackass,' 'Red's' ensemble cast of AARP-aged stars drew an audience that was primarily over 35 (according to Summit's tracking) and earned Bruce Willis his best opening since 'Live Free or Die Hard' debuted with $33.4 million three years ago.
'The Social Network,' the top movie for the past two weeks, fell to No. 3 this weekend, but it remained a powerful draw with an estimated take of $11.0 million, down just 29 percent from last week. In 17 days, the Facebook drama has earned $63.1 million.
Also still strong was 'Secretariat,' which lost just 25 percent of last week's business for a fourth-place finish and an estimated second-week purse of $9.5 million. Its earnings over its 10 days of release are $27.5 million. Fellow second-weeker 'Life as We Know It' was close behind at No. 5 with an estimated $9.2 million. It dipped 37 percent from last weekend, for a 10-day total of $28.9 million.
The full top 10:
1. 'Jackass 3D,' $50.0 million (3,081 screens), new release
2. 'Red,' $22.5 million (3,255), new release
3. 'The Social Network,' $11.0 million (2,868), $63.1 million total
4. 'Secretariat,' $9.6 million (3,072), $27.5 million
5. 'Life as We Know It,' $9.2 million (3,150), $28.9 million
6. 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole,' $4.2 million (2,502), $46.0 million
7. 'The Town,' $4.0 million (2,368), $80.6 million
8. 'My Soul to Take,' $3.2 million (2,529), $11.9 million
9. 'Easy A,' $2.7 million (2,314), $52.3 million
10. 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,' $2.4 million (2,045), $47.9 million
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.