Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
January 22, 2014
Kim Hollis: Ride Along, a buddy cop film that teams up Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, earned $41.5 million over the three-day portion of the MLK Jr. holiday weekend. In the process, it became the biggest January opener ever, usurping Cloverfield's record. How did Universal achieve such a superlative result?
Edwin Davies: A combination of a proven concept - the buddy-cop comedy, the resilience of which was demonstrated ably by The Heat last summer - and the right pairing to get people excited about something that they've seen tried many, many times. Kevin Hart is clearly the catalyst for this success since he's been an ascendant star for much of the last few years, thanks in large part to his hugely successful work as a stand-up and role in Think Like A Man, but I think Ice Cube brings a fair deal to the table here. He's not a prolific film actor these days, but he was great in 21 Jump Street and has demonstrated that he can be both funny and tough, which are the two qualities required for the part and the story. On top of all this, the trailers were very well put together, and they managed to get the plot across and pair it with just enough solid gags to get people interested. The film itself is, by most accounts, not terribly good, but you can't fault the way in which the film has been marketed and the solid thinking behind pairing Cube and Hart together in a film that plays to their established personas.
Tim Briody: Since there wasn't enough Kevin Hart on our televisions thanks to the deluge of ads for Grudge Match (which earned about $1 per commercial) so they were replaced by ads for Ride Along, which wasn't weighed down with some old guys. Ice Cube is still a decent draw in his own right and add in the whole "underserved niche audience" thing and there you go, new January record.
Jason Barney: I can't speak much to the success of this film, because I really didn't see it coming. Grabbing the biggest January opening is significant, and this continues Universal's run of success that has almost lasted an entire year. A $41 million opening is huge considering the production budget, and this film is going to be pretty profitable. This is performing way above my expectations.
Felix Quinonez: I think it was a combination of things. The trailers for Ride Along, allegedly, seemed appealing. Kevin Hart's star has been steadily rising and was on the verge of breaking out. And it catered to a niche that is generally under served. Also it shouldn't be understated that Ice Cube, in the right role, brings some appeal to the movie.
Kim Hollis: I think that the studio cleverly marketed this with a big focus on Kevin Hart. Clearly, playing second fiddle to Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro is not what people want from him, but they're excited to see him as the featured player. Universal surely knew what they had on their hands even before the movie opened, as they greenlighted a sequel without even thinking about it. It's found money. The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend has proven to be a profitable one over the last several years, and smart studios have found great success in taking advantage of that spot on the calendar.