‘Jackass Forever’ laughs its way to No. 1 at box office

Not even a global pandemic or a 12-year hiatus could stop the Jackass guys at the box office. “Jackass Forever,” the fourth movie in the anarchic series earned $23.5 million in ticket sales in its first weekend in theaters, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It not only exceeded expectations but also easily bested its other main competitors, the big budget sci-fi spectacle “Moonfall” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which has 6 of its 8 weeks in theaters at No. 1.

“ Jackass Forever ” brings back Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius and Wee Man for another round of pranks, stunts and injuries and has become the best-reviewed in the series. Playing on 3,604 screens in North America, “Jackass Forever” is on the lower end of “Jackass” openings, above only the first, which made $22.8 million in its opening weekend in 2002. The biggest opening of the series was the last one, “Jackass 3D’s” $50 million debut in 2010. But, costing only $10 million to produce, “Jackass Forever” is already a clear success for Paramount. The studio was predicting a launch in the mid-teens.

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Men accounted for 68% of the R-rated “Jackass Forever” audience, which was 67% between the ages of 18 and 34.

“Both ‘Scream’ and ‘Jackass Forever’ had a very long lag time between installments and absence made the heart grow fonder for ‘Jackass,’” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “They’ve always done quite well. They don’t cost a lot to make and the communal nature of the theater elevates a comedy like ‘Jackass.’”

“Moonfall,” meanwhile, which cost around $140 million to produce, is not doing well stateside. Lionsgate estimated the film’s opening weekend grosses to be just over $10 million, which was in line with its projections. Directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson, “Moonfall” was not well-received by critics. The disaster pic about a possible collision between the moon and the Earth holds a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. Like “Jackass,” its audience was also mostly male (60%).

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“Moonfall” was made and financed independently through Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment and foreign deals and, like many big budget disaster pics of this ilk, is supposed to earn most of its money internationally. Lionsgate only oversaw distribution in North America and its expected to be profitable for the studio.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” took in an additional $9.6 million in its eighth weekend in North American theaters, bringing its domestic total to $748.9 million. Globally, its earnings total $1.77 billion.

“Films that appeal to a younger audience have a much bigger potential for success (during the pandemic),” Dergarabedian said. “And the young male audience really seems like they want to go to the movie theater.”

In art house releases, Neon debuted “ The Worst Person in the World ” on four screens this weekend to $135,042. The Norwegian film about a young woman finding herself is shortlisted for an Oscar nomination (which will be announced on Tuesday), topped many critics’ best of lists in 2021, and has gotten a fair share of celebrity endorsements (from Nancy Meyers to Paul Thomas Anderson). Its per-theater average ($33,760) is the highest of 2022. Neon will add theaters in the coming weeks.

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Though still far from a normal, pre-pandemic weekend, it did break a bit of a lull that will likely continue until “The Batman” opens on March 4.

“It’s not the biggest weekend ever but considering how quiet the marketplace has been, it’s very welcome,” said Dergarabedian.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Jackass Forever,” $23.5 million.

2. “Moonfall,” $10 million.

3. “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” $9.6 million.

4. “Scream,” $4.7 million.

5. “Sing 2,” $4.2 million.

6. “The King’s Man,” $1.2 million.

7. “Redeeming Love,” $1 million.

8. “American Underdog,” $800,000.

9. “The 355,” $700,000.

10. “The Wolf and the Lion,” $675,027.

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

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