If Friday traffic is any indication, Paramount and MTV Films' outrageous R-rated comedy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa looks to be the film to finally steal the box office crown from space epic Gravity, which has ruled the roost for three weeks.
Featuring Johnny Knoxville and sidekick Jackson Nicoll, Bad Grandpa is pacing to score $25 million for the weekend.
Gravity, which has stayed at No. 1 since its Oct. 4 launch, is expected to earn $20 million for the weekend. The Warner Bros. film has turned into a box office sensation, earning north of $300 million to date.
Bad Grandpa, the first Jackass film to have any sort of plot, stars Knoxville as signature character Irving Zisman, a crotchety 86-year-old, and Nicoll as 8-year-old grandson Billy. The outrageous duo embark on a hidden-camera road trip across America, performing stunts and punking people. Along the way they encounter, among others, male strippers, disgruntled child beauty pageant contestants and bikers.
Jeff Tremaine returns to direct, and he produces alongside Knoxville, Spike Jonze and Derek Freda.
Knoxville is the only Jackass regular to appear in the film, which Paramount stresses is a spinoff and cost a modest $15 million to produce.
The weekend's other new nationwide offering is Ridley Scott's star-packed drama The Counselor, from an original screenplay by No Country for Old Men author Cormac McCarthy (his first). Based on early Friday numbers, the R-rated film is pacing to open in the $10 million range, a major disappointment considering Scott's pedigree and stars Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt.
It may fare better overseas, where it begins rolling out this weekend in a handful of markets, including Brazil.
The Counselor, starring Fassbender as a greedy lawyer who gets caught up with drug traffickers, has received mostly negative reviews. Insiders say the film was a vanity project for Scott, but that it reportedly cost only $25 million to make, with talent taking a drastically reduced fee in order to work with Scott.
Scott, who has longtime ties to Fox, last directed Prometheus for the studio.
The Counselor opens at a time of major transition for Fox's domestic marketing operation, which has suffered a string of box office disappointments. Last week, studio CEO/chairman Jim Gianopulos put international presidents Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus in charge of worldwide marketing and showed domestic marketing co-president Oren Aviv the door. Tony Sella, the other co-president, said he was resigning but then had a change of heart. His fate remains unclear. Sella now reports to Jegeus and Hanneman, instead of Gianopulos.