Pic on track to break record for October opening

Paramount’s first 3D offering in the “Jackass” franchise crushed the competish this weekend, posting a record-setting estimated $50 million at 3,081 locations, of which 2,452 were 3D-equipped.

If Par’s estimates hold, “Jackass 3D” will rank as the highest October opening ever, beating the $48.1 million earned by “Scary Movie 3″ in 2003.

The weekend’s only other wide release, Summit’s older-skewing “Red,” fell well behind “Jackass 3D” but still got off to an OK start with an estimated $22.5 million at 3,255.

Despite hearty bows from both new entries, the frame was still relatively flat with last year.

In limited release, Warner Bros. kick-started what could be a solid wide expansion next week for Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter,” launching the pic early at six

locations for a per-screen average of $38,426. “Hereafter,” with Matt Damon, took an estimated $231,000 this weekend.

Overseas auds continued to show support for Universal’s 3D toon “Despicable Me,” which posted another strong weekend, expanding to markets including the U.K. and Italy for an overall weekend gross of $25.7 million in 54 territories. Toon’s international totals now stand at an animated $168.6 million. Par is gearing up for its overseas rollout of “Jackass 3D” in two weeks, starting with Blighty, Australia and the Netherlands, markets in which the franchise has performed best.

The two previous “Jackass” installments stalled at foreign wickets, grossing $25 million internationally, though Par vice chairman Rob Moore said the 3D format has boosted pre-release appeal for the most recent offering among the film’s core overseas aud. “This one really feels like throughout Europe it’s got a lot of interest, and certainly the 3D feels like it’s going to give the movie a big pop,” Moore added.

Going into the weekend, Par cited expectations nearer to the mid-20s, according to pre-weekend tracking. Moore attributed the film’s higher gross to strong word of mouth among its core fanbase, which drove a record-setting $2.5 million in midnight grosses for an October bow.

“One of the things that’s almost impossible to identify with tracking is heat behind a movie,” Moore said.

“Jackass 3D” saw a sizable uptick from higher 3D ticket prices, with the format contributing 92% of the overall weekend gross, but according to Moore, 3D mostly helped in broadening aud appeal.

“This is a movie that certainly delivered, in terms of using 3D, to really enhance the comedic experience,” Moore said. “With a brand that is so much about the physicality of these guys, the promise of what that would then yield in 3D was something that captured people’s imaginations.”

Prior to “Jackass 3D,” the franchise’s highest opening was the $29 million earned by “Jackass Number Two” in 2006. And while that film could not benefit from higher 3D ticket prices, the boost in 3D sales typically only adds 10%. This means the franchise’s latest offering broadened beyond its normal fanbase to account for an opening higher than any usual 3D uptick.

The film’s female base surged 15% over the previous “Jackass” pic, with the new entry drawing a 60%-40% male-female split. As expected, however, two-thirds of the audience was under age 25.

According to CinemaScore, general moviegoers rated the film B+, the same overall appraisal given to “The Social Network,” meaning “Jackass 3D” likely will hold better than its predecessors over the long haul. The first two pics grossed $64.3 million and $72.8 million, respectively.

Summit prexy of domestic distribution Richie Fay said he expects “Red” to play well in repeat frames, especially given the pic’s A- rating and sizable 26% uptick from Friday to Saturday.

Strong holds for other adult-driven pics like “The Social Network” and “The Town” could also mean good news for “Red,” as the film skewed 58% among auds over 35. “As the older audience continues to support the picture, we’ll get to where we want to be ultimately,” Fay said.

Based on a DC Comics graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, “Red” cost near $58 million, with Summit accountable for less than $20 million after subsidies and foreign licensing fees. Pic is directed by Robert Schwentke and toplines Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren as retired assassins.

Fay credited Mirren as a big draw among the pic’s female contingency. The film had a fairly even split between men and women, repping 53%-47%, respectively.

Top holdovers, led by Sony’s “The Social Network” and Disney’s “Secretariat,” both held their ground in repeat frames.

“Social Network” came in third with a drop of 29% in its third weekend, grossing an estimated $11 million, while “Secretariat” fell just 25% with an estimated $9.5 million in its soph sesh. “Social Network” has cumed $63.1 million; “Secretariat,” $27.5 million.

Warner also had a solid showing this weekend on the holdover front, with its titles occupying the frame’s Nos. 5-7 spots. The studio’s soph sesh entry “Life as We Know It” fell 37% for a weekend take of $9.2 million, cuming $28.9 million to date. Following “Life” for Warner was 3D toon “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole,” which took in an estimated $4.2 million, down 39%, for a domestic cume of $46 million.

Meanwhile, Warner’s “The Town” continued to show considerable resiliency with adult auds, with an estimated $4 million in its fifth frame, slipping 37%. Pic has tallied a solid $80.6 million.

Among the weekend’s most notable specialty fare, Fox Searchlight launched biopic “Conviction,” with Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell, at 11 locations in five U.S. markets. Given its topnotch cast, pic scored a just-OK per-screen average of $10,000, totaling $110,000 for the weekend. Fox Searchlight said it plans to expand the film into 19 cities next weekend.

Freestyle Releasing mounted aggressive rollouts for two specialty pics: “N-Secure” and “I Want Your Money.”

“N-Secure,” toplining Cordell Moore and Essence Atkins, played well to African-American auds in mostly urban areas. Pic grossed $1.4 million at 486 locations, averaging $2,849 per screen, while the docu “I Want Your Money” opened at 537 for a disappointing per-screen average of $570. The Republican-skewing docu opened mainly in the South and Midwest, with a total estimated $279,240.

While U’s “Despicable Me” ranked as the top pic at the international B.O., 20th Century Fox Intl. boosted the distrib’s year-to-date totals past $2.5 billion, outstripping the studio’s record last year of $2.45 billion.

“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” was Fox’s top player this weekend, adding $7.3 million to $49.4 million in foreign totals. The “Wall Street” sequel opened in the No. 1 spot in China, with an estimated $2.2 million, while holding well in both Spain and the U.K. against Sony’s debut of “The Social Network.”

Overall, “Social Network” totaled an estimated $12.8 million over the weekend, bringing overseas cume to $17.3 million in just two weeks of international play.

Sony also got strong perfs from “Eat Pray Love” and “Resident Evil: Afterlife.” The former had a boffo launch in Indonesia, which reps the “Love” portion of the film’s title, where it debuted with four times the cume of Julia Roberts’ “Erin Brockovich.” International totals for “Eat Pray Love” reached $86.8 million through the weekend; “Afterlife” has posted $207.4 million.

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