Box Office: 'Ride Along' Tops Friday, Eyes $39 Million Debut

The buddy cop pic is easily trouncing the competition, including Chris Pine starrer "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit."

Cementing Kevin Hart's star status, Universal's comedy Ride Along is doing big business at the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday box office, where it could hit $39 million in its debut after a $13 million Friday.

Ride Along, the latest film to target African-American consumers, stars Hart opposite Ice Cube and was directed by Tim Story (Think Like a Man). Last year, Hart took the box office by storm with stand-up comedy concert pic Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, which took in north of $32 million.

Ride Along, costing a modest $25 million to make, marks Hart's first turn as a comedy lead and is on course to score one of the top openings for the MLK holiday.

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In a double victory for Universal, which made Ride Along, Peter Berg's Afghanistan war drama Lone Survivor remains strong in its second weekend and should come in No. 2 with a gross in the $29 million range. The patriotic-themed pic, a hit in America's heartland, 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 post a four-day gross in the $25 million range. It is the first new animated offering since Disney's hit Frozen, which was released at Thanksgiving.

Distributed by Open Road Films, Nut Job 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.

Following Nut Job at the holiday box office is director Kenneth Branagh's Jack Ryan, starring Chris Pine as the iconic character created by author Tom Clancy. Tracking has been on the soft side for the Paramount film, which hopes to relaunch the studio's marquee spy franchise.

Produced for $60 million by Paramount and partner Skydance productions, Jack Ryan is pacing to open in the $20 million-plus range. 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.

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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.

The weekend's fourth new entry is 20th Century Fox's $7 million horror pic Devil's Due. The R-rated pic may only gross $10 million in its four-day debut, putting it 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.

American Hustle is among 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.