Why ‘Jackass Forever’ Is the Perfect Film to Boost the COVID-Era Box Office

Paramount’s low-budget stunt film hits theaters along with Lionsgate’s ”Moonfall“

After two weeks of no major new releases, the box office is finally getting a little bit of new material as Paramount’s “Jackass Forever” and Lionsgate’s “Moonfall” hit theaters. Neither film will be a major success but both — especially “Jackass” — are the kind of films that are designed to find profit in this time of feast or famine for movies.

“Jackass Forever” will hit theaters three weeks after Paramount found low-budget success with its revival of “Scream,” which has grossed $62.6 million domestic and $106 million worldwide against a $24 million production budget. At a time when only films that appeal to younger moviegoers have found any box office success, “Scream” coupled that appeal with a lower production and marketing spend that allowed it to turn an easy profit.

“Jackass Forever” takes the same route with an even lower production budget of just $10 million, which should enable the Johnny Knoxville stunt-apalooza to easily recoup its investment. Paramount execs project a mid-teens opening from 3,590 theaters, while rival distributors say they wouldn’t be surprised if the film stretches into the $20 million range.

While “Jackass” largely sold itself on the sheer ludicrousness of the moronic pranks that Knoxville and his buddies inflict on each other during its 2000s heyday, the marketing for “Forever” has coupled that with a message of friendship, encouraging people to “grab all your friends” to see a group of old and new friends lovingly abuse each other for 96 minutes.

Paramount isn’t just selling nostalgia for an MTV show. It’s selling nostalgia for a night out at the movies with your mates. Somewhat ironically, the most puerile of all film franchises is embracing the call from theater execs for studios to actively sell the theatrical experience, and while bringing out the under-30 crowd alone won’t be enough to create consistent pre-pandemic level turnout, theaters need all the help they can get to avoid a 2022 that is constantly waiting for the next big superhero blockbuster to pick up business again. Smaller films, even ones like “Jackass Forever,” can help with that.

Also hitting theaters this weekend is “Moonfall,” the latest film from disaster-movie maven Roland Emmerich. The film is expected to open below “Jackass Forever” with a $10-12 million launch, but Lionsgate execs say a $10 million result would be a success.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • jeremy.fuster@thewrap.com • Twitter: @jeremyfuster