"Ride Along," comic Kevin Hart's first lead character role, looks to give Universal its second big opening of the early year as it dominated a strong Friday at #1 with $14.5 million. Studios always regard the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday as a reason to open a major African-American-themed movie, and these results won't change that mindset.
Last week's #1, "Lone Survivor" (Universal) will hold on to #2, coming in with $6.7 million for the day, edging out "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" (Paramount) at #3 with $5.4 million. With Chris Pine taking over the role previous played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, the latter was moved out of Christmas to make room for "The Wolf of Wall Street." That looks like it paid off for the studio at least for the Scorsese film. This figure is actually a bit ahead of expectations, but how the film holds and then scores overseas will determine whether this is a successful Tom Clancy adaptation series relaunch.
Also opening were the animated "The Nut Job" (Open Road) at $4.8 million, which could rise to #3 (almost certainly for the four-day figure). This also is above advance estimates. "Devil's Due" (Twentieth Century Fox) was #5 with $3.5 million, but might fall (its D+ Cinemascore means bad word of mouth). This low-budget horror film didn't have high expectations, but as the second new genre release of 2014 not to show much strength (the new "Paranormal Activity" film two weeks ago fell short), there are signs that audiences are growing warier of showing up for the first weekend for this kind of film.
Overall though the four new films plus "Lone Survivor" combined to raise the total for the Top 10 to over $40 million, up an impressive $7 million from last year's take. But somewhat surprisingly, there was one weakness -- the impact of the Oscar nominations on Thursday seemed to boost only one film, the already successful "American Hustle" (Sony), #6 for the day at $2.85 million (up about 10% from last Friday).
"Frozen" at #7 with $2,546,000 (Animated Feature and Song nominee) fell as it finally got some competition for family audiences. "August: Osage County" (#8) more than doubled its theaters, but saw its gross drop to $2.1 million from $2.2 million last Friday despite its two acting nods. At #9 with $2 million, "The Wolf of Wall Street" (Paramount) fell less than it might have otherwise after holding well so far. #10 "Her" (Warner Bros.) had a steep drop to $1.15 million (last Friday was $1.8 million) despite its strong showing, and will struggle to hold on to screens as early as next weekend.
None of the other nominated films, either brought back to benefit from their placement or continue their runs ("Gravity," "12 Years a Slave," "Nebraska," "Philomena," "Captain Phillips"), managed to gross even $500,000 yesterday. For leading contenders "12 Years" and "Nebraska" this is particularly disappointing, since there is room for significant growth for both that now seems unlikely to happen.