Joshua Rich
September 24, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Johnny Knoxville and his crazy friends from Jackass went Number Two this weekend, but it sure smelled sweet: Their sequel wound up an easy No. 1 at the box office, earning $28.1 million, according to Sunday’s estimates. That’s about $5 mil better than Jackass: The Movie‘s $22.8 mil bow in 2002, and it’s particularly impressive considering that J:NT only cost, like, $11 mil to produce.

So, you know, Johnny’s happy. Bam is happy — even though he’s got a 3-D pornographic brand on his ass now. They’re all happy. And I’m happy, of course, because Michigan beat Wisconsin pretty soundly yesterday, and I don’t want to hear any nonsense about us trying to run up the score at the end. If you want to go there, please check out those embarrassingly huge Florida State and Oklahoma and Nebraska scores first. Would that we could all have mediocre Conference USA or Sun Belt teams on our schedules this late in the season.

Still, I’ll tell ya, I’m freaking out a bit today. And it has nothing to do with football. I’m talking about my box office predictions, which, for the second straight week, were dead on. I mean, dead-the-frick-on. I’m on a hot streak these days, people. I’m throwing more touchdowns than all the quarterbacks named Drew combined. First, I forecast J:NT would win the week with $28 mil. Check! Then, I said Jet Li’s Fearless would earn $10 mil; it made $10.6 mil at No. 2. Bingo! Then, I said Flyboys would open with $7 mil; it took in $6 mil at No. 4. And I saw the poorly reviewed All the King’s Men making $5 mil; it did a lowly $3.8 mil at No. 7. I dunno. It’s scary. It’s like I have a copy of Gray’s Sports Almanac in my back pocket. I’m damned tempted to jump in the car and drive to Vegas and bet my life savings on one spin of the roulette wheel… but I don’t think they’ll let me wager a buck seventy-eight.

As for those other openers, none of them were particularly strong or notable. I will say that I spent all but my last $1.78 to go see ATKM on Saturday night, so I played my part. It’s a weird movie. There’s a lot of screaming from Sean Penn and swelling musical crescendos and things, and yet I couldn’t get past the fact that there are all these people flailing around wildly in wool suits, in 1950s Louisiana, with no air conditioning, and yet there isn’t a drop of sweat to be seen in the whole two-and-a-half-hour show. Not a drop. Strange. I mean, that makes as much sense as a five-time football national champion beating up on a sub-.500 Sun Belt team in late September. No wonder ATKM‘s CinemaScore was a weak B- from an audience that was — whoa — 93 percent over the age of 25. Buh-bye, Oscar hopes.

Holdovers Gridiron Gang (No. 3) and Everyone’s Hero (No. 5) rounded out the top five with $9.7 mil and $4.8 mil, respectively. Some smaller releases performed nicely: Warner Independent’s dreamy Michel Gondry entry, The Science of Sleep, awoke to a very-good $24,786 per-screen average in 14 locations, and Sony Pictures Classics’ punk rock doc American Hardcore (featuring my hometown boys Bad Brains and Minor Threat) made $21,187 in one NYC theater. Oh, and the black-and-white, animated, European thriller Renaissance, from Miramax, averaged an unspectacular $5,200 in two venues.

Overall, says volleyball powerhouse Long Beach State’s favorite son, Paul at Exhibitor Relations, box office receipts were down nearly 8 percent from a year ago. Come to think of it, there have been a lot of ”down” weekends lately. And, even as Sean Penn & Co. stay dry, that fact should have lots of folks in Hollywood breaking a sweat.

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