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'Bad Grandpa' Sinks 'Gravity' to Top Box Office

By Sandy Cohen

LOS ANGELES -- Apparently astronauts are no match for Jackass.

Paramount's (VIA) Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa topped the weekend box office with $32 million, according to studio estimates Sunday, sinking three-week champ Gravity to second place.

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

"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. (TWX) space adventure added an additional $20.3 million to its haul over the weekend, bringing its domestic ticket totals to nearly $200 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," Don Harris said. "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 $11.8 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, Fox Searchlight's 12 Years a Slave, edged into the top 10 despite playing in only 123 theaters.

"This portends a tremendous expansion trajectory for the film" directed by Steven McQueen and starring Chiwetel Eijofor, Dergarabedian said. "In a sea of films that are in over 1,000 theaters, 12 Years a Slave is distinguishing itself by doing so well."

The overall box office is up 9% over the same weekend last year, Dergarabedian said.

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