3D opening's success leads to speculation

Johnny Knoxville and his “Jackass” cohorts have brought a new resonance to the saying “No pain, no gain,” with the weekend’s box office success of Paramount’s “Jackass 3D.”

“Jackass 3D” became the B.O.’s first fall hit, opening to more than $50 million to rank as the highest-grossing October opener, besting the $48.1 million made by “Scary Movie 3″ in 2003.

While Par hasn’t confirmed whether it will order up more antics in the “Jackass” series, the success of the first 3D outing would make another installment a solid bet for the studio.

But how much more pain can the troupe take for the franchise?

In “Jackass 3D,” Knoxville and company partake in the usual shenanigans that auds have come to expect from the series, from slingshot stunts to getting speared by a bull.

Budgeted at under $20 million, the project was relatively low-risk, with a devoted fanbase comprising mainly young males and fans of the MTV show. “Jackass 3D” saw 60% of its opening aud from males, with two-thirds of them under 25.

Now, the 3D format has sweetened the deal, especially since the pic’s core demo is most enthusiastic toward the format. Par vice chairman Rob Moore described 3D as a major draw among the pic’s targeted aud, but also a big selling point for young women and over-25 moviegoers.

“Johnny, Spike Jonze (producer) and Jeff Tremaine (director) really know how to work their audience,” Moore said. “And now 3D is just another tool for them to do that.”

“Jackass 3D” joins a recent barrage of 3D genre pics, including “Piranha 3D” and “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” to use the format to massage more ducats at the box office. Lionsgate debuts its first 3D installment in the torture porn “Saw” franchise on Oct. 29.

While nearly all have earned more from 3D grosses than 2D, the 3D format isn’t a guarantee of fanboy fidelity. Universal’s Wes Craven horror pic “My Soul to Take,” from Rogue Pictures and Relativity Media, got lost in an early October horror crush, totaling just $11.9 million in domestic grosses.

“Jackass 3D,” which earned 92% of its opening from 3D-equipped screens, should ultimately outpace the series’ earlier installments. “Jackass Number Two” grossed $72.8 million in 2006.

And whether Par and Knoxville decide to undergo more pain with a fourth “Jackass,” one thing is likely: Audiences would come back for more.

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