After posting an impressive $41 million opening 3-day weekend, the Kevin Hart comedy Ride Along, carried its surge into Monday, drawing huge crowds on its way to setting, not only a new January box office record, but also a Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend record, earning a total of $48 million over the 4 days, beating out previous record holder, 2008's Cloverfield, for the top spot (that movie earned $46.1 million over the same holiday weekend 6 years ago).
Co-starring Ice Cube, and directed by Tim Story, it appears that the comedy had broad audience appeal, given its opening weekend tally, with 2 stars who have strong brands that gelled together nicely.
Polling showed that Ride Along's audience was 50% African American, 30% Hispanic, and 12% Caucasian, all primarily over the age of 25, with 57% being female.
Box office prognosticators predict that the film will earn over $100 million by the end of its theatrical run, given its "A" CinemaScore, which would put director Tim Story in club with very, very few members: black filmmakers who directed "black films" that grossed over $100 million. Most recently, Lee Daniels did it with The Butler.I'm not quite ready to crown Tim Story and Ride Along just yet; Whether the film will have legs going into successive weekends, remains to be seen. Strong word of mouth is absolutely crucial for it to maintain its momentum.
January typically isn't a month when studios release their expected blockbusters, but more seem to be starting to realize the advantage that the lack of competition during the month presents. The timing proved to be super for Universal, who released Ride Along, which, keep in mind, the studio picked up in turnaround from New Line last year.
It makes for back-to-back number 1 openers for director Tim Story and producer Will Packer, who directed and produced (respectively) 2012's box office smash Think Like a Man, which also took the number 1 spot during its opening weekend, earning over $33 million, en route to a near-$100 million global box office, and which, by the way, also co-starred starred Kevin Hart.
"We knew the tracking was strong, but we didn't see it going this high, especially with women," said Universal's Nikki Rocco, adding, "Maybe it's Kevin Hart?"
Hart's certainly been on a roll; His 2013 concert movie Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, was a smash (relative to budget) for distributor Lionsgate/Codeblack.
Ultimately, what matters is that, whatever helped sell tickets and put butts in seats worked, and may continue to do so in the long run.