×

Will this be the weekend that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is dethroned at the box office once and for all?

Paramount’s go-for-broke action comedy “Jackass Forever” and director Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic “Moonfall” certainly hope that’s the case. After an excruciatingly slow January at the movies, one that let “Spider-Man” tower over the competition for weeks, the two nationwide releases will try their hand at getting audiences to multiplexes.

“Jackass Forever,” the fourth installment in the ongoing saga of projectiles to the groin, appears to have the best shot at taking down “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which has spent six of the last seven weeks at No. 1. The latest “Jackass” adventure is expected to bring in $15 million to $20 million from 3,590 North American theaters in its debut. “Moonfall” is targeting a start that’s closer to $10 million or $12 million from 3,400 venues.

“Jackass Forever” cost a mere $10 million to produce, so it doesn’t need to do all that much business to turn a healthy profit in its theatrical run. After the television series launched on MTV more than two decades ago, “Jackass” has managed to parlay the stunt-driven prank premise to box office riches. The most recent entry to open in theaters, 2010’s “Jackass 3D,” beat expectations with $50 million in inaugural sales and eventually tapped out with $117 million domestically and $171 million worldwide.

But in the 12 years since that film played on the big screen, times and consumers’ tastes have changed. “Jackass Forever” will be an important test of its enduring popularity in an era when comedies haven’t been faring well at the box office. It probably helps that — not to generalize — fans of “Jackass,” a property that exists only to put stars Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and Wee Man in harm’s way, may not be as concerned about leaving the house amid COVID-19.

Unless “Moonfall” beats the odds and sells more tickets than expected, getting the mega-budgeted movie into the black may be as unlikely as the moon getting knocked from its orbit and colliding with Earth. “Moonfall,” a science-fiction catastrophe film, is about the moon getting knocked from its orbit and colliding with Earth. Emmerich directed the movie, which cost an enormous $140 million to make and plenty more to promote.

Having turned “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “2012” into commercial smashes, Emmerich once had the Midas touch in the realm of big-budget blockbusters that center around global devastation. But his latest outing, the $100 million-priced war epic “Midway,” earned only $56 million at the domestic box office and $127 million globally, making it a financial disaster that could rival, well, an Emmerich movie. That film, as well as “Moonfall,” are emblematic of the kind of non-superhero tentpoles that have mostly fallen out of favor with moviegoers. In the case of “Moonfall,” Emmerich is betting big that audiences want to watch calamity unfold on the big screen to escape from the dystopian times we’re currently living in. Lionsgate is distributing “Moonfall,” which stars Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Michael Peña and Donald Sutherland.

And then there’s Sony’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” now in its eighth weekend of release. The comic book adventure, starring Tom Holland, is projected to earn $8 million or more between Friday and Sunday. Should Spidey remain a powerful draw in its umpteenth outing, “No Way Home” could actually put up a fight against its competition, “Jackass Forever” and “Moonfall.” But the Marvel vigilante has its eyes set on bigger rivals. With $735 million at the domestic box office, the film is only $25 million from unseating “Avatar” ($760 million) as the third-biggest movie ever (not adjusted for inflation). Na’vi nation, Peter Parker is coming for you.