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Universal’s comedy Ride Along is on course to score one of the best openings for the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend after earning $14.5 million Friday. Starring Kevin Hart opposite Ice Cube, the buddy cop pic could open as high as $45 million.
Cloverfield currently holds the record for top MLK opening ($46.2 million), not accounting for inflation.
Ride Along, costing a modest $25 million to make and scoring an A CinemaScore, marks Hart’s first turn as a comedy lead.
In a double victory for Universal, Peter Berg‘s Afghanistan war drama Lone Survivor remains strong in its second weekend and could post a four-day gross in the $26 million range, pushing the film’s domestic total to an estimated $77 million. The patriotic-themed pic, a hit in America’s heartland and grossing $6.7 million Friday, features an ensemble cast led by Mark Wahlberg.
New animated family film The Nut Job, voiced by Will Arnett, is doing better business than expected and could likewise gross $26 million over the long weekend, putting the film in a close race with Lone Survivor for No. 2. It is the first new animated offering since Disney’s hit Frozen, which was released at Thanksgiving.
Distributed by Open Road Films, Nut Job, earning $4.8 million Friday, follows the adventures of a squirrel who plans to rob the town’s biggest nut shop in order to help his friends survive the winter.
Kenneth Branagh‘s Jack Ryan, starring Chris Pine as the iconic character created by author Tom Clancy, entered at No. 3 with $5.4 million, but the film is expected to slip to No. 4 for the weekend with a so-so debut in the $17 million to $18 million range. Tracking has been on the soft side for the Paramount film, which hopes to relaunch the studio’s marquee spy franchise.
The title was produced for $60 million by Paramount and partner Skydance productions. The movie was originally set to open Christmas Day, but its release was pushed back to make room for fellow Paramount film The Wolf of Wall Street.
Jack Ryan opens more than a decade after the last film in the franchise, The Sum of All Fears, played in theaters and more than two decades after The Hunt for Red October launched the film series, meaning younger moviegoers aren’t so familiar with the brand.
Also starring Branagh, Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley, Jack Ryan opens day-and-date in 31 international territories, including key markets China, Australia, Korea, Mexico and Russia, where the film is set. This time out, the analyst-turned-agent is caught between his handler, his fiancee and a fearsome Russian oligarch.
Both Nut Job and Jack Ryan received a B CinemaScore.
The weekend’s fourth new entry is 20th Century Fox’s $7 million horror pic Devil’s Due. The R-rated pic, nearly flunking with a D+ CinemaScore, might only gross $10 million in its four-day debut, putting it at No. 7, behind Frozen and Oscar best picture nominee American Hustle. Devil’s Due stars Allison Miller and Zach Gilford as a couple who experience strange and supernatural events as they are expecting their first child.
Sony’s American Hustle is one of a slew of awards contenders looking for a boost following last weekend’s Golden Globes ceremony — where Hustle won best picture for a comedy or musical — and Thursday’s Oscar nominations.
Among films scoring an Oscar best picture nomination, Hustle is enjoying the biggest boost. David O. Russell’s period pic, tying with Gravity for the most Oscar nods (10), is expected to gross $12 million for the four-day holiday weekend, including $10 million for the three-day weekend — a 22 percent jump from last weekend. Hustle won the Globe for best picture in the comedy/musical category.
The Weinstein Co.’s August: Osage County is also enjoying a bump from Oscar nominations for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts (it didn’t earn a best picture nod). John Wells‘ adaptation of the stage play is poised to gross $8.8 million for the long weekend to come in No. 8, up 3 percent weekend over weekend.
Best picture nominees The Wolf of Wall Street and Her are projected to place No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, with projected earnings of $8.4 million and $5 million. Wolf will end the holiday with a domestic cume north of $90 million.
Best picture contenders Gravity, Captain Phillips, 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club were all rereleased in theaters following Oscar nominations, with Gravity expected to do the most for the weekend ($1.8 million), followed by 12 Years ($1.5 million).
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