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January 19, 2014
Over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, Kevin Hart/Ice Cube comedy Ride Along drew huge crowds and set a new January opening record. Meanwhile, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit missed the mark and Devil's Due bombed.
Playing at 2,663 locations, Ride Along scored a fantastic $41.2 million over the three-day weekend. That's a tad higher than Cloverfield, which had previously held the January record with $40.1 million. Among original comedies, Ride Along had the highest opening since Ted ($54.4 million) back in June 2012.
Ride Along's stunning debut can be attributed to a number of factors. First and foremost, the movie had a strong, broadly-appealing premise that was put front-and-center in all of the marketing material. That would be worthless, though, if the movie looked like a dud: fortunately, the Ride Along previews were packed with solid laughs, including a very memorable shotgun bit. All of this was brought to life by stars Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, both of whom have strong brands that aligned nicely with the Ride Along material.
Ride Along's audience was 57 percent female, and 54 percent over the age of 25. The ethnic breakdown was 50 percent African American, 30 percent Hispanic, and 12 percent Caucasian. With an "A" CinemaScore, Ride Along is guaranteed to earn over $100 million by the end of its run.
Fellow Universal Pictures release Lone Survivor took second place this weekend with an estimated $23.2 million. The movie's light 39 percent decline can be attributed to strong word-of-mouth ("A+" CinemaScore) and an ongoing marketing push. To date, the Afghanistan war drama has earned $74 million.
Animated comedy The Nut Job opened in third place this weekend with a surprisingly strong $20.6 million. That's the highest debut yet for Open Road Films, and is a noticeable improvement over November animated flick Free Birds ($15.8 million).
The Nut Job's success can be chalked up at least partly to strong scheduling: Frozen was the last viable piece of family entertainment, and that opened nearly two months ago. It also helped that Open Road's marketing was focused on the movie's humor, which is traditionally a recipe for success with animated movies.
Unfortunately, audiences weren't particularly enamored with The Nut Job: they awarded the movie a "B" CinemaScore, which is very poor for animated fare. Still, The Lego Movie doesn't open until February 7th, meaning The Nut Job has another two weekends to play to families. The movie should ultimately wind up with at least $60 million, which will be a new record for Open Road Films.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opened to an estimated $17.2 million, which was only good for fourth place this weekend. The fifth Jack Ryan movie—and first with Chris Pine in the lead—opened on par with The Hunt for Red October. Unfortunately, Red October hit theaters 24 years ago, when average ticket prices were about half of what they are right now.
The movie's audience was 52 percent male and 85 percent over the age of 25. It received a weak "B" CinemaScore, and will have a hard time getting past $60 million.
Even with direct competition from The Nut Job, the Frozen phenomenon kept going strong this weekend. The movie fell 19 percent to an estimated $12 million, which is the fourth-highest eighth weekend ever. Through Sunday, Frozen has earned $332 million, and it remains on pace to eventually beat Despicable Me 2 ($368 million).
In seventh place, Devil's Due bombed with just $8.5 million. Among past supernatural horror movies in January, that debut is a fraction of Mama's $28.4 million and The Devil Inside's $33.7 million, and is also noticeably lower than The Rite's $14.8 million. While the supernatural horror genre is still thriving, the disappointing performance of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and Devil's Due suggests audiences are tiring of the found footage subgenre.
Dating back to Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, distributor 20th Century Fox has now had seven-straight movies open below $15 million at the domestic box office. That's a rough streak, though it will end with either Son of God (Feb. 28th) or Mr. Peabody & Sherman (March 7th).
Among the Oscar nominees, American Hustle led the way with $10.6 million this weekend (up 28 percent from last weekend). The David O. Russell ensemble movie has already earned $116.4 million, and could make a run at $150 million before all is said and done.
August: Osage County expanded to 2,051 locations and added $7.6 million. To date, the family drama (which scored Oscar nominations for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts) has grossed $18.2 million.
The Wolf of Wall Street eased 15 percent to $7.5 million. In the process, it passed $90 million. Meanwhile, Her (2013) dipped 24 percent to $4.1 million (new total of $15 million).
To take advantage of its 10 Oscar nominations, Gravity was re-released in to 944 theaters this weekend. The movie added $1.95 million for a new total of $258.4 million; with an IMAX re-release scheduled for January 31st, look for this to continue making money for at least the next month. 12 Years a Slave also received a nationwide re-release, and in the process passed $40 million.
Frozen continued to impress overseas this weekend. The animated hit opened to $8.9 million in South Korea, which is the second-biggest animated opening ever there behind Kung Fu Panda 2. This is a strong indicator of how the movie will perform when it reaches China (Feb. 5th) and Japan (March 15th).
Overall, Frozen added $24.6 million for a new foreign total of $426.5 million. Worldwide, its reached $759 million, which ranks fifth among 2013 releases ahead of Monsters University.
Coinciding with its domestic debut, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opened to $22.2 million from 29 foreign markets. According to Paramount, it was about on par with Jack Reacher, which wound up earning $138 million.
Its top market was China, where it earned a solid $9.5 million. It also took first place in Russia with $2 million, which is somewhat disappointing considering how much of the movie is set in Moscow. Other major markets included Australia ($2 million), South Korea ($1.8 million) and Mexico ($1.2 million). It expands in to the U.K. and a few smaller markets next weekend.
Foreign rights to The Wolf of Wall Street belong to a number of different distributors, so overall grosses aren't available on Sunday. However, the movie did earn an impressive $20.6 million in the European markets that are being handled by Universal Pictures. It set new Martin Scorsese opening weekend records in the U.K. ($7.6 million), Germany ($6.4 million) and Spain ($3.4 million).
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug added $10.9 million this weekend, which brings its overseas total to $585 million. Including its domestic earnings, the movie has so far banked $833.7 million worldwide; even with China and Japan on the way, it's now unlikely that Smaug will join An Unexpected Journey in the $1 billion club.
by Ray Subers
Click here to view weekend chart