That’s the lowest wide release debut of the star’s career, and a major setback for the prankster whose four Jackass films have made the studio close to a half billion dollars worldwide off combined budgets just north of $50M over a 16-year period. That weekend result is even lower than Paramount’s prestige misfires last year, mother! ($7.5M opening) and Suburbicon ($2.8M), even though those catered to different audiences.
Action Point arrives without the Jackass label because it only stars Knoxville and Chris Pontius and not the whole gang, and that’s one of the reasons why the pic’s fans are staying away, even though Paramount earnestly billed the comedy as “From the Star of Jackass” in trailers. The Jackass guys have been slow to make another film in the wake of member Ryan Dunn’s death. Some even say that the whole stunt thing for Knoxville, 47, is getting to be too long in the tooth. Knoxville fans per CinemaScore turned up at 48% last night, giving the pic a B-, while Action Point overall earned a C+, the lowest grade ever for a Paramount Knoxville movie (Jackass received an A-, 2 & 3 landed B+s with Bad Grandpa getting a B). Critics who’ve given his last three Jackass movies around a 60% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score thumbs-downed Action Point with a 17% Rotten score, saying that it was deflated, unfunny, and by the numbers.
It’s easy to blame the previous administration for Action Point, and this comedy was greenlit in January 2017 before studio CEO Jim Gianopulos and Motion Pictures group president Wyck Godfrey even drove on the Melrose lot. However, Knoxville’s last hit for Paramount, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, was huge, reaping close to $152M WW off a $15M budget four years ago. Even though he’s spaced his comedies apart over the last several years, Knoxville always rebounded and never grew stale. It made perfect sense why Paramount would want to do another movie with Knoxville. The budget was low on Action Point at a reported $19M, shooting in Capetown, South Africa, so there’s not an immense Solo loss going on here. But the bombing further speaks to how hard it is to launch an original R-rated raunchy comedy in this day and the casualties continue to build up, read The House ($8.7M, $25.5M) and Rough Night ($8M, $22M). Universal’s critically respected Blockers muscled its way to a solid $20.6M start, but slowed below a 3x multiple to $59.3M.
Another problem with Action Point was in its execution by which a narrative was being forced upon a Jackass stunt film. Pic, scripted by John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky and directed by Tim Kirkby, is inspired by one of the most dangerous amusement parks in America, Action Park, which operated from 1978-1996, employed drunk attendants, and was allegedly responsible for six deaths. Knoxville plays the owner of a fun danger zone in the film, with the park’s livelihood threatened when a big corporate amusement park opens nearby. Jackass‘ spark was comprised of stunts plus pranks on real people, triggering honest reactions. Action Point was scripted without the pranks and Jackass fans can smell the difference. This whole B.O. turndown with Knoxville and Action Point is reminiscent of Sacha Baron Cohen’s downward trajectory with his own branded comedies: Once revered by the masses for his man-on-the-street reality character bits with Borat ($128.5M), as the world began to recognize Cohen, he segued to more scripted character comedies, like The Dictator ($59.5M) and The Brothers Grimsby ($6.87M), which paled greatly next to his heyday.
We hear Action Point was a headscratcher for both former and current Paramount execs to figure out, with the pic jumping around the release date calendar from March 23 to May 11 to, finally, this weekend. The studio, at one point, considered unloading Action Point, but opted to brave a theatrical release.
Again, Action Point isn’t a huge gash for Paramount. They had a fantastic spring with their low budget horror pic A Quiet Place, which made $183M+ domestic over $315M WW, and their older-skewing acquisition Book Club is putting up solid numbers with a great post-Memorial Day hold of -32% with $6.9M in its third weekend, and will ultimately gross north of $50M. Next up this summer for Paramount is Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout on July 27. In regards to Knoxville, he always split his time between his comedies and popcorn pics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Dukes of Hazzard. Up next for him is the Phillip Noyce crime thriller Above Suspicion, starring Emilia Clarke and Jack Huston.