Box Office: 'Ride Along 2' Now Heads for $40M Debut; 'Revenant' Targets $37M
Elsewhere, Michael Bay's '13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi' is soaring in conservative Southern states for a $20 million-plus opening over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.
Universal's Ride Along 2 — reuniting Kevin Hart and Ice Cube — won the Friday race at the North American box office with $12 million from 3,175 theaters for a projected $38 million-$40 million weekend, enough to win the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday ahead of The Revenant and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The $40 million sequel is coming in behind the first film, which debuted to $48.6 million over the same four-day holiday weekend two years ago. However, Ride Along 2 faces far more competition and earned a B+ CinemaScore, compared to an A for the original pic.
Ride Along 2 sees the soon-to-be-wed Ben (Hart) heading to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James (Cube) to bring down a drug kingpin who's supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product. Will Packer is among the producers of the film, directed by Tim Story. Ride Along 2 is overindexing among African-Americans, who made up 38 percent of Friday's audience, according to Rentrak's PostTrak service.
Enjoying a major awards boost, The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu, earned $9.3 million Friday from 3,559 locations for a projected $37 million weekend, ahead of expectations and putting it at No. 2.
The Fox and New Regency film picked up 12 Oscar nominations Thursday after winning best picture, best director and best actor honors at last weekend's Golden Globes ceremony. Revenant added screens this weekend, including 54 Imax theaters. Imax had previously been committed to carrying Star Wars: Force Awakens across its entire circuit.
Force Awakens was bumped to No. 2 this past week by Revenant after a dazzling run that saw the J.J. Abrams-helmed blockbuster top the box office for four consecutive weekends and shatter numerous records for Disney and Lucasfilm. After grossing $6.4 million Friday from 3,822 theaters, Force Awakens is expected to earn $34 million from 3,822 locations over the weekend for a domestic total of roughly $860 million and a global haul north of $1.8 billion. The movie has begun shedding theaters in North America; its tally since opening had been 4,134 sites.
Michael Bay's patriotic themed 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi opened to a solid $6 million Friday from 2,389 theaters after earning an A CinemaScore. The Paramount film looks set to take in $20 million-plus over the four-day holiday, in line with the $22 million launch of Lone Survivor on the same weekend in 2013. A year ago, Clint Eastwood's American Sniper launched to a massive $107.2 million, but it boasted a major star in Bradley Cooper.
13 Hours, targeting conservative moviegoers, is also potentially politically divisive in recounting the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy compound in Benghazi that left four dead, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was then Secretary of State, has come under fierce attack from Republican rivals for security lapses at the compound. The movie does not refer to Clinton.
13 Hours, which stars John Krasinski and James Badge Dale, is soaring in conservative Southern states, which also boast a large number of military bases.
The weekend's third new entry, Lionsgate's family film Norm of the North, grossed $1.6 million from 2,411 theaters Friday for a projected four-day debut of $8.5 million. The pic earned a B- CinemaScore.
Among other Oscar best-picture contenders, Adam McKay's The Big Short also hopes for an awards bump since it is relatively new at the cineplex (it opened nationwide Dec. 23). The dramedy has grossed $44.6 million to date for Paramount and New Regency, and is looking to add another $6 million over the holiday frame.
Prospects for best-picture contenders Brooklyn, Room and Spotlight are trickier since they have been in theaters longer, even if they were never given wide, saturated releases. All three films are adding theaters this weekend.
Jan. 16, 8 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers.