Jackass topples Gravity at US box office

Apparently astronauts are no match for Jackass.

Paramount’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa topped the weekend US box office with $US32 million ($A33.34 million), according to studio estimates on Sunday, sinking three-week champ Gravity to second place.

Bad Grandpa stars Johnny Knoxville as an accident-prone grandfather in a hidden-camera comedy.

“It’s been a very heavy fall in terms of the content of the movies, so I think audiences were ready for something completely lighthearted and out of leftfield,” said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak.

Gravity, which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts on a troubled spacecraft, has soared since its debut three weeks ago. The Warner Bros. space adventure added another $US20.3 million to its haul over the weekend, bringing its domestic ticket totals to nearly $US200 million.

Paramount’s president of domestic distribution said it’s gratifying to see Jackass unseat the space adventure from its top spot.

“We weren’t competing with Gravity,” said Don Harris. “We were not competitive in any other way than who was going to be No. 1 this weekend.”

Sony’s high-seas thriller Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks, held on to third place with $US11.8 million.

An all-star cast including Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Michael Fassbender wasn’t enough to draw audiences to The Counselor, which opened in fourth place. The gritty Fox drama is a “very challenging, provocative film”, according to Chris Aronson, who heads distribution for Fox.

“We’re fine,” he said. “I know we have a very competitive environment.”

He expects the film, written by Cormac McCarthy, to find its audience as it rolls out internationally in the coming weeks.

Another drama, 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen, edged into the top 10 despite playing in only 123 theatres.

“In a sea of films that are in over 1000 theatres, 12 Years a Slave is distinguishing itself by doing so well,” Dergarabedian said.

*Estimated ticket sales are for Friday through to Sunday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Rentrak. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday.

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