MLK Jr. Weekend Rides Along Thanks to Openers, Oscars
By John Hamann
January 19, 2014
What happens at the box office when you have a number of strong openers, recently anointed Golden Globe winners, and recent Oscar nominations? We get Boxing Day at the box office, where the word "boxing" is used in the sporting context, or in the "out with the old, in with the new" way. It’s moving day at the movies this weekend, as the garbage gets taken out, and we no longer have to talk about Paranormal Activity: Franchise in Trouble or The Legend of Hercules.
Yes, with two movies, Hercules and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, being the only new wide releases to come out since Christmas Day (24 days ago, if you’re counting), and with both of them already out of the top 12, audiences were hungry for new product. Add heightened awareness due to Oscar nominations and Golden Globe winners to the mix, and we have a lot to talk about. Openers included Ride Along with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit with Chris Pine and Kevin Costner, The Nut Job, the animated film that seems more like Walking With Dinosaurs than competition for Frozen, and Devil’s Due, a typical bad January horror film. Add to that the expansion of some Oscar nominees that have already gone to pasture, and we’ve got a big weekend.
Our number one film of the weekend is Universal’s Ride Along, which – before we even get into any numbers – crowns Kevin Hart as The Next Big Thing. Ride Along didn’t just win the weekend, it broke out in a big way, earning $41.2 million from 2,663 venues, giving it a smokin’ venue average of $15,485. Made for only $25 million, Ride Along went straight to profit compared to production budget, and will easily earn the marketing spend back in a few weeks. Ride Along could be our second $100 million earner of the year if we count Lone Survivor, which really opened in December (but on one screen). Ride Along got started Thursday, taking in $1.1 million from previews, and then hit Friday hard with an additional $13.4 million on top of that Thursday preview number. It still has another strong day to go thanks to the holiday Monday. Ride Along has broken the record for a January opening, surpassing Cloverfield's 2008 debut of $40.1 million.
Universal and Cube Vision certainly assembled the right team to cash in this weekend. While Ice Cube hasn’t been overly active in movies lately, he still commands an audience, as he did in Barbershop ($75.8 million), its sequel ($65.1 million), Are We There Yet? ($82.7 million) and 21 Jump Street ($138.5 million). Kevin Hart, though, is definitely the new thing, as his last concert film, Let Me Explain, earned $32.2 million despite costing about eight bucks to make. Hart also found success in Think Like a Man, which has a lot of connections to Ride Along. Think Like a Man was the breakout success story of April 2012, when it used a smart release strategy to open to over $33 million, and maintained that success, pulling in $91.5 million at the domestic box office.