No Breakouts, No Problem, Over MLK Weekend
By John Hamann
January 17, 2016
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out of top spot at the weekend box office after four weekends. Avatar was on top for seven weekends, yet The Force continues to pile on as the biggest domestic grossing film ever.
This is the weekend when The Force Awakens moves out of the penthouse, and it is also the weekend that lives in American Sniper’s shadow, as a year ago, the Bradley Cooper flick earned $90 million over its opening frame. Despite all these factors, the box office still performed strongly this weekend, despite having two holdovers in the top four spots. Openers this weekend included Ride Along 2, sequel to the 2014 MLK opener that found a sizzling $41.5 million, again starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube; 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, a Michael Bay film that tries to capture what it was like during the assault on US Diplomatic Compound in 2012; and Norm of the North, a low-rent animated feature with the voice of Rob Schneider. This crew may seem like a dog’s breakfast, but with assists from Star Wars and The Revenant, a strong weekend is in store.
Our number one film this weekend is Ride Along 2, the comedy sequel to the breakout hit. After opening to $41.5 million, the original went to earn $135 million stateside and picked up another $20 million overseas, all against a budget of only $25 million. Universal is back with another Ride Along this weekend, looking to replicate or build on the success of the original. After $1.25 million from Thursday previews, the combined Friday number came in at $12 million. This amount was $2.4 million behind that of the original, which had a first Friday of $14.4 million. While the Friday box office total meant that Ride Along 2 was not going to find the same opening weekend success that the original did, it was still going to open in the neighborhood of $40 million over the long weekend, which meant Ride Along 2 would be good investment for Universal despite it carrying a price tag of $40 million, an increase of $15 million over the last film.
Over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the long weekend, Ride Along 2 managed a weekend gross of $34 million, $7.6 million off the opening of the original. The Universal release debuted on 3,175 theaters, almost 500 more than the original. For me, this is somewhat of a surprise – the original broke out and was embraced by most, receiving an A Cinemascore. Critics hated both the original and the sequel, so the only thing different this time around is that the concept has been done before, and the marketing campaign was not quite as funny. Kevin Hart may also be getting to the point of overexposure. Since the original Ride Along, Hart has appeared in About Last Night, Think Like A Man Too, Top Five, The Wedding Ringer and Get Hard. Including the two Ride Along films, Hart has had five films released with a fresh rating below 30%, which may have affected the opening weekend gross.