October 17, 2010 / 5:11 PM / in 7 years

"Jackass" daredevils top box office for third time

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Blowing stuff up never gets old in movies, as the death-defying pranksters from MTV’s reality series “Jackass” proved at the North American box office on Sunday.

<p>Cast member Steve-O gestures at the premiere of "Jackass 3D" at Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California October 13, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

“Jackass 3D,” the third installment in a feature series about a crew of thrill junkies, crushed forecasts by selling an estimated $50 million in tickets during its first three days of release across the United States and Canada, distributor Paramount Pictures said.

If projections hold up when final data are issued on Monday, the film will beat 2003’s “Scary Movie 3” ($48.1 million) to rank as the biggest October opening of all time.

Pundits had forecast “Jackass 3” would open in the $30 million range. The actual result ranks as the best opening since the Leonardo DiCaprio thriller “Inception” kicked off with $63 million three months ago.

The series details the exploits of a crew of daredevils, led by Johnny Knoxville, who withstand grievous bodily harm by performing various gruesome stunts. Genitalia abuse and frequent vomiting are popular favorites.

Women accounted for a surprisingly large 40 percent of the audience, Paramount said, up from 34 percent for the first film in October 2002. That one opened at No. 1 with $23 million and finished with $64 million. The 2006 sequel led the field with a $29 million opening, and ended up with $73 million. MTV, which originally aired the “Jackass” TV series between 2000 and 2002, and Paramount are units of Viacom Inc.

Critics mostly praised the movie, even if they said the new 3D element failed to add much. But Paramount’s executive VP for distribution Don Harris said the new movie would have been viewed as a “been there, done that” proposition and opened in the $20 million range had it not been for the extra dimension.

Even though it was filmed in 3D -- rather than converted in post-production -- the film cost a modest $19 million to make.

Opening at a distant No. 2 was “Red,” a Bruce Willis action drama based on a DC Comics book. It earned $22.5 million, in line with expectations. The film, which also stars Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren, was released by closely held Summit Entertainment.

After two weeks at No. 1, the acclaimed Facebook drama “The Social Network” slipped to No. 3 with $11 million, taking its total to $63.1 million. It was released by Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp.

“Despicable Me” led the foreign box office for a second weekend with a $25.7 million round from 54 markets, said distributor Universal Pictures. Its total stands at $168.6 million. The animated feature was a surprise summer hit in North America, grossing $247 million. Universal is a unit of General Electric Co.

Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Doina Chiacu and Todd Eastham

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