Weekend Box Office: Why Bad Grandpa Ticket Sales Might Stumble

Viacom stock, Bad Grandpa competes with films from News Corp, Time Warner
Viacom stock, Bad Grandpa competes with films from News Corp, Time Warner

Last weekend, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa absolutely stole the show at the box office for Viacom's Paramount Pictures, taking in a massive $32 million from domestic movie-goers and quickly more than doubling its tiny $15 million production budget.

Of course, the obnoxious R-rated comedy wasn't exactly facing stiff competition. Though both Sony Pictures' Captain Phillips and Time Warner's Gravity put up a good fight, the veteran films were already entering their third and fourth weekends, respectively.

Meanwhile, despite director Ridley Scott's past successes, fellow newbie The Counselor from News Corp's 20th Century Fox turned out to be a complete dud, grabbing less than $8 million in domestic receipts during its weekend debut.

But that also begs the question: How long will Viacom be able to use Bad Grandpa's antics to hold audiences' attention?

My guess? Not very long.

For reference, remember where Bad Grandpa originated: More than a decade ago, Jackass: The Movie stunned audiences in the same way, grabbing the number one spot with a domestic gross of nearly $22.8 million during its own inaugural box office weekend near the end of October 2002.

However, Jackass: The Movie subsequently plunged to number four in its second weekend, largely as the typical November box office onslaught took hold and audiences instead chose to watch The Santa Clause 2, The Ring, and I Spy. In short, Bad Grandpa's ancestor saw a quick end to its short-lived fame, thanks both to the debuts of two decidedly more family-friendly films, as well as one enduring horror flick entering its third week.

Now, if you fast forward to this weekend, it looks like Bad Grandpa will face a similar fate at the hands of three new movies, including CBS Films' Last Vegas, Relativity Media's Thanksgiving-themed Free Birds, and the widely anticipated Ender's Game from LionsGate.

Relativity's Free birds will compete with movies from LionsGate and CBS
Relativity's Free birds will compete with movies from LionsGate and CBS

Image source: FreeBirdsMovie.com

However, while CBS did bring in powerful names to headline Last Vegas -- including Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline -- it remains to be seen whether it'll will resonate with audiences, especially considering at first glance it appears a less-than-novel movie along the lines of The Hangover meets Wild Hogs. Those two films did well in their own rights, but at least Bad Grandpa's shocking real life stunts offer something we haven't seen in awhile.

That's why I think the real battle for first place at this weekend's box office lies between Relativity's Free Birds and LionsGate's Ender's Game. Remember, Relativity has found seasonal success before with 2011's Easter-themed blockbuster Hop, which itself grabbed the top weekend box office spot by earning a stateside haul of $37.5 million and ultimately grossed nearly $184 million worldwide.

Ender's Game, for its part, also offers the novelty of applying today's big budget special effects to Orson Scott Card's so-named 1985 novel, so don't be surprised if longtime fans come out of the woodwork to see how LionsGate handled the sci-fi classic.

But don't feel bad for Bad Grandpa if it has a hard time keeping up this weekend. In all likelihood, it'll still make good money relative to what it cost Viacom to produce. In the end, though, if we're only considering the top line, I'm just convinced November's initial lineup will do much, much better.

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