Jackass Forever And Moonfall Offer Equal Parts Hope And Concern For The Box Office

After nearly two months of dominating the charts virtually unopposed (save for one week where "Scream" took the crown), "Spider-Man: No Way Home" has finally fallen from atop the box office and, amazingly enough, it was Johnny Knoxville and the gang that took the Marvel superhero out. Yes, in what might be one of the most smile-inducing wins in a long time, "Jackass Forever" managed to top the box office in its opening weekend as audiences were ready to laugh and have a good time again. Meanwhile, the disaster flick "Moonfall" also made its debut and the results were far less encouraging, making for a mixed bag of lessons to be learned from a very full movie-going frame. Let's dig into the numbers, shall we?

Jackass Forever Gets An Important Victory

Comedy was having a tougher and tougher time at the box office even before the pandemic and, unless you were someone like Seth Rogen, scoring a hit was particularly tricky. Heck, even Rogen suffered a misfire with the seemingly sure-bet "Long Shot" back in 2019. And yet, after something like two years without a pure, live-action comedy being released widely at the box office, "Jackass Forever" brought moviegoers out en masse to the tune of $23.5 million according to Box Office Mojo. That is a win for comedy and a win for those who want to see comedy remain a theatrically viable, studio-produced product.

From a business perspective, it was great for Paramount to stick to their guns with this one and not give the movie a streaming release, which might have seemingly been the play as they attempt to boost Paramount+ subscribers. With a budget of just $10 million, this is going to end up being a gigantic win from a financial perspective. What's more, this now means that every single "Jackass" movie has opened number one at the box office dating back to "Jackass: The Movie" in 2002. Very few franchises of any kind can claim that sort of success and, though it would be easy for some to write these movies off as lowbrow toiler humor, there's clearly more to it than that.

The one and only knock against the positive aspects of this is that it's yet another example of an established brand being the thing that manages to get moviegoers out of the house. It is excellent that a comedy didn't get dumped to streaming much like "The Lovebirds" did to Netflix or "Vacation Friends" did to Hulu but it remains exceedingly difficult for original films to succeed theatrically right now. That will, at some point, become extremely limiting. But right now this is largely a very good sign for those who value the theatrical experience beyond superhero stuff and horror films.

Moonfall Crashes In Concerning Fashion

Speaking of original movies not doing well, director Roland Emmerich's big-budget disaster flick "Moonfall" landed in the number two spot this weekend with $10 million. Given that the film's price tag is said to be in the $140 million range, that is arguably more disastrous than the moon actually falling to Earth, as this movie puts forth. Emmerich, the disaster master behind the likes of "Independence Day" and "2012" seemingly was operating right in his lane with a premise that may well have worked for him and audiences some years ago. But things have changed.

Disaster movies truly run the gamut from the biggest of big hits ("2012") to the most epic of epic flops ("Geostorm"). In this case, Emmerich and Lionsgate, who are distributing the flick, found themselves in flop country. Granted, international audiences may turn up for this one but it is going to be a tall order to save this one from being a trainwreck. The problem is that audiences weren't being asked to show up for some tough sell arthouse movie. This was a big blockbuster that attempted to inject a lot of entertainment value in its runtime for the masses to enjoy. The masses made it clear they were uninterested. If this kind of movie can't even achieve modest success anymore, where does that leave us?

One could make the argument that people don't want to see disasters play out on screen after living through a pandemic. Though Netflix's "Don't Look Up" was a huge success in the streaming world so that theory runs out of steam pretty quickly, especially when considering that there is quite a bit of doom and gloom in most comic book movies as well. The real tragedy here is once again having to narrow the scope of what can and cannot work in post-pandemic Hollywood — and that was already a pretty small target to try and hit.

The Worst Person In The World Provides Hope For Indie Cinema

On another positive note, at least one indie film had a promising start at the box office this weekend in the form of Neon's "The Worst Person In the World." Opening in just four theaters, the acclaimed pic earned a huge $135,000, making for a per-screen average of more than $33,000. Whether or not it can keep the good buzz going and continue to put meat in seats as it expands remains to be seen but this is a wildly promising start.

The problem is, we've seen platform releases such as this top out pretty quickly. Even Wes Anderson's "The French Dispatch" finished with $44 million against a $25 million budget. Hollywood has got to find a way to get audiences to pay attention to and show up for smaller movies while they're in theaters or the window of hope for original cinema is going to shrink even further, with virtually everything that isn't a guaranteed hit being produced with streaming in mind. That having been said, "The Worst Person In the World" offers a glimmer of hope in a corner of the moviemaking world that could really use it right now.

And the Rest...

"Spider-Man: No Way Home" slipped to number three (finally) taking in another $9.6 million, dropping less than 13% in its eighth weekend. It now stands at $1.77 billion globally and has a great chance of passing "Avatar" ($760 million) to become the third-highest-grossing film domestically in history. Just genuinely amazing stuff. "Scream" came in at number four adding another $4.7 million for a $120 million global total. It should finish in the $150 million range, making it no surprise that "Scream 6" has already been announced.

Rounding at the top five was Universal's "Sing 2" which, despite being available on VOD for weeks now, has continued to do quite well. With another $4.1 million under its belt the animated sequel now stands at $291 million worldwide, all but assuring it will eclipse $300 million The studio can definitely call this one a win.

Looking ahead to this weekend, we've got a trio of varied new releases in the form of "Death on the Nile," "Marry Me," and the latest Liam Neeson action flick "Blacklight." For better or worse, it should make for an interesting weekend between the newcomers and the holdovers.