Here’s a riddle for you. What do you call a $15 million dollar R rated comedy that makes over $32 million domestically in its first three days of release? Answer: The future. Well, “the future” used to be the answer, but after Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa just became the fifth comedy in 2013 to make over $30 million over its opening weekend, we should forget calling such performances “the future,” because the future is now. So, today we’re going to examine how Bad Grandpa wheezed its way to the top of the box office and what that means to all of us filmmakers who are formulating our next move. Thus, here are a few clear reasons why Grandpa was so bad (a*s).
Opening Weekend Statistics
Bad Grandpa is a $15 million dollar production that made $32,055,177 on 3,336 screens over the weekend, which was good enough for first place at the domestic box office. The per-screen average for the picture was $9,609. Furthermore, Bad Grandpa wrangled an additional $8.1 million internationally, making its worldwide box office total $40,155,177. The film is predicted to cross the $75 million dollar mark domestically and do over $125 million when combining the international totals. Obviously, such a performance for a moderately budgeted film is nothing short of ridiculously amazing.
Initial Social Media Tracking Signs Pointed Downward
I’m sure Paramount Studios unleashed a deep sigh of relief late Friday night, when they realized Bad Grandpa had made $12.56 million on its first day of release, because the film was tracking well behind other recently released comedies. For example, according to an October 9, 2013 article written by Sean Robbins of Box Office, Bad Grandpa had been tracking 7% behind Movie 43, 8% behind The Dictator, and a whopping 58% behind This is the End. Thus, it had been more than a bit unclear if Bad Grandpa would sink or swim. Thankfully for Paramount, Bad Grandpa not only swam, but it lapped every other major release at the domestic box office.
Understanding Bad Grandpa’s Audience
Newsflash; Johnny Knoxville can open a film, without the assistance of his Jackass crew. That’s one of the main things learned from this film’s launch to the top of the box office. Additionally, 56% of the opening weekend audience was male, and 63% of the audience was people over the age of 25. Of those two statistics, the one that really jumps out at me is 63% of Bad Grandpa’s opening weekend audience was old enough to rent a car (25 or older). Either the 12 year-olds who loved the first Jackass film when it came out in 2000 all flocked to the film this past weekend, or Johnny Knoxville’s humor is expanding its reach to older generations. But, either way, capturing an older audience clearly signals where the masses are choosing to spend their box office dollars these days.
What is it About “R” Rated Comedies With “Bad” in the Title?
With the current success of Bad Grandpa, it dawned on me that the word “bad” has been actually very good to “R” Rated comedies at the box office. While this could be a coincidence, I doubt it is. Putting the word “bad” in an “R” Rated comedy is somewhat of a mating call to audiences who appreciate such humor.
For example, in 2011 Sony Studios (aka Columbia Pictures) released Bad Teacher, a $20 million dollar budget that earned $216,197,492. Furthermore, in 2007, Sony/Columbia released Superbad, another $20 million dollar budget that earned $169,871,719 worldwide and became an instant comedy classic that gifted us a character for the ages: McLovin. Of course, we’d be remiss if we forgot Dimension Film’s 2003-holiday offering, Bad Santa. This wonderfully vile $23 million dollar budgeted classic earned $76,488,889 worldwide.
On a personal note, not only did I see this film in theaters when it was released, but I saw it again when Billy Bob Thornton introduced it at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 2004. The film continues to be an incredibly overlooked holiday gem, so if you haven’t seen it yet, download it this holiday season.
What Bad Grandpa Tells Filmmakers
In a nutshell, “R” Rated comedy is back with a vengeance, so if you have one in development, now would be the time to pull it out and give a healthy polish over the last several weeks of the year, so you’ll have it primed and ready to sell in January.
Okay filmmakers. That’s what I have for you today. I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. Until then, I wish you an amazingly productive and financially satisfying week. I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.