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It's been 13 years since Jackass first debuted on MTV-- yes, that means you're old, but star Johnny Knoxville is probably older, and way too old to keep the schtick going. And yet… he's coming back, and actually embracing his age in a way. Paramount and MTV Films have announced, via The Hollywood Reporter, that they've already finished shooting a new Jackass movie, this one called Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.
As you might guess, that means the film will be based around Irving Zisman, the elderly man who "shocks people with his wildly inappropriate behavior"-- and who is also Knoxville in old age makeup. The character appeared on the show and in all three of the movies, including the latest one, Jackass 3D. You can relive that glory here:
Ever since Jackass 3D became a surprise hit three years ago-- doesn't it feel like ages since then, though?-- there's been rumors of making another movie, and in fact they released Jackass 3.5 on DVD, though that was just deleted scenes from the third movie. It's impressive, though, that they managed to make the new movie completely under the radar, presumably so they could pull off a bunch of pranks on the unsuspecting public, and maybe so they didn't experience an inevitable backlash from people like us asking "Wait, are they seriously at it again?" Word got out a year ago that Paramount had registered a series of "Bad Grandpa" domain names, but Knoxville was quick to come out and say it wasn't happening. All to carefully maintain that element of surprise...
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa will be arriving on October 25 this year, in time to take advantage of the release date gap left by the Paranormal Activity spinoff, which has been officially pushed back to a January release. Paramount says they want to make the Paranormal Activity series a January event from now on, relinquishing the hold the horror franchise has had on the Halloween period for the last four years-- and maybe admitting that the series isn't as fresh as it used to be. Then again, the studio also released The Devil Inside, the critically derided January horror release that also managed to make more than $100 million worldwide. I know, I had totally forgotten it existed too, but something that profitable isn't likely to be ignored by a studio, no matter how bad it was.
Writing about both the Paranormal Activity spinoff and the Jackass spinoff is a depressing reminder about the state of studio-produced films these days, and especially Paramount, which this year has released just six movies, one of them the Top Gun re-release; only one of them, Michael Bay's very weird and financially underwhelming Pain & Gain, was a 100% original story, and that even was based on a true crime. The studio, which is part of the Viacom media empire, has seemed actively less interested in developing new films over the last few years, and the move toward Jackass and Paranormal Activity spinoffs seems to confirm the strategy-- milk what you already own, and leave the risks to everybody else. The fact that they're also backing Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, but that's starting to look a whole lot more like the exception than the rule.