MLK Jr. Weekend Rides Along Thanks to Openers, Oscars
By John Hamann
January 19, 2014
Tim Story directed Ride Along, and was also the helmer for both Think Like a Man and Ice Cube's Barbershop. Will Packer's Rainforest Films joined along with Cube Vision and Universal to produce Ride Along, and Packer was also present for Think Like a Man. Story and Packer will also be onboard for Think Like a Man 2, with Hart also added as a producer. Universal has already greenlit a sequel for Ride Along, and hopefully it will actually be of higher quality than this weekend's release. Ride Along garnered 72 reviews at RottenTomatoes, and all but 12 were rotten, giving it a fresh rating of only 17%. What it lacked in critical notices, it may make up for in word-of-mouth, because it scored an A Cinemascore. After a breakout debut weekend, Ride Along will likely have another weekend to dominate since only one new release hits theaters on January 24th.
Finishing second is Lone Survivor, and thanks to the Martin Luther King Jr. long weekend and a small expansion, the war movie with Mark Wahlberg holds nicely. Lone Survivor took in $23.2 million over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend, dipping a not bad 39% in the process. It’s important to keep in mind the amount of new and expanding product this weekend, and the effect these have on holdover releases. Universal, with the top two releases this weekend, was able to secure 114 additional screens for Lone Survivor, bringing its total up to 2,989 venues. The $40 million-budgeted film is on its way to $125 million at the domestic box office, but its foreign chances might be more subdued given the nature of the film. For Peter Berg, Battleship is now officially behind him, as Lone Survivor has already outdone the sad domestic gross of the blockbuster, which came in at only $65.4 million (the $209 million film was bailed out by an overseas take of $237.6 million). Lone Survivor and Ride Along mark a great start to the year for Universal, as they didn’t have two $30 million plus openers until mid-April of last year.
Pulling up in third is The Nut Job, and while it will be a footnote in box office history, the fact that it finished ahead of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit could make it a franchise killer (the last time, it was Ben Affleck, this time, squirrels). The Nut Job, from upstart distributor Open Road Films, debuted to $20.6 million. The studio put it out to 3,427 theaters, thinking that it would be the only animated title in the top ten, considering Frozen opened two months ago, and Walking With Dinosaurs would be four weeks old. Little did they know that Frozen would still be earning $10 million plus this weekend. So, with a small production budget of $42 million, this one is very much like Free Birds, which was from another new-to-animation distributor, Relativity Media. Free Birds opened to a slightly worse $15.8 million and finished with $55.2 million, against a $55 million production budget. With nothing cooking for kids until the February 7th debut of The Lego Movie, Open Road has a few weekends to work without competition, except from the seemingly always there Frozen. Unfortunately for the kids, and worse for parents, The Nut Job is not a very good movie, scoring only a 13% fresh rating, and a B Cinemascore.
That pushed Chris Pine and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit down to fourth for the weekend, an ugly start for what should have been the rebirth of a franchise. Based on the character from the late Tom Clancy, audiences provided a collective shrug this weekend, as Jack Ryan could only pull $17.2 million from 3,387 venues for Paramount. This has to be disappointing for the studio, as they had assembled a strong cast (Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley) and had a decent director in Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Hamlet). This was to be a Christmas release, and Paramount should have stuck to their plan, as this weekend was even busier than Christmas Day and has no guaranteed legs like holiday films tend to show. The budget for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was a fairly affordable $60 million given those involved. If this one manages $45 million domestically and $60 million overseas, Paramount could make out at least okay, but I wouldn’t expect to see a Shadow Recruit 2 any time soon.