Weekend Box Office: Audiences Get Taken For a ‘Ride’

Two of this weekend’s new movies opened better than expected. The other two opened under expectations. One title in each category surprised me.

Ride Along‘ blew the competition – and predictions for it – out of the water. From 2,663 locations, the comedy opened with $41.2 million, making it the highest-debuting January release of all time. ‘Cloverfield’ previously held that title with $40.1 million. ‘Ride Along’ earned $12 million more than expected and $18 million higher than its closest competition. Get ready to see Kevin Hart leading more comedies. How much do you want to bet that Universal greenlights a ‘Ride Along’ sequel within the next two weeks?

Universal held the top two slots, as ‘Lone Survivor‘ locked in second place. The based-on-a-true-story modern warfare film slipped 38% and added another $23.2 million to its haul. After ten days of wide release, the movie has earned $74 million domestically.

The titles that surprised me were those that ended in third and fourth places. Although it’s been over two months since a kids’ flick was released, I didn’t expect many families to flock to ‘The Nut Job‘. Nonetheless, the animated movie debuted to $20.5 million from 3,427 locations. It better enjoy this day in the sun, because ‘The Lego Movie’ opens in just two weeks.

With $17.2 million, ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit‘ debuted in the exact range that it was predicted to, but I thought it would do better for three reasons: People like Chris Pine; I took Mrs. Hickman and half a dozen friends to an IMAX showing on Saturday night that was completely sold out; and everyone I know who has seen it (aside from a few critic buddies) has loved it. Hoping that the latter is true all around, perhaps it will hold over better than most. With a reasonably low $60 million production budget, here’s hoping that it’s successful enough to warrant a sequel. At this point, it looks like ‘Shadow Recruit’ will be on par with another “Jack,” Paramount’s ‘Jack Reacher’.

Despite competition from ‘The Nut Job’, Disney’s ‘Frozen‘ only fell 18% in attendance. The nine-week-old movie rounded out the Top 5 by adding another $11.9 million to its $332.6 million domestic haul.

Devil’s Due‘ suffered a nasty seventh-place debut, earning only $8.5 million from 2,544 locations. The found-footage horror movie was made for just $7 million, so it won’t be a huge loss for Fox – but it also won’t come close to the success of past January horror releases.

Last week’s Oscar nominations noticeably boosted a few older titles this weekend. ‘American Hustle‘ climbed up a notch in the rankings by earning $10.6 million. ‘August: Osage County‘ did the same, giving the drama its best weekend yet with $7.5 million. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘ only fell 15% and earned another $7.5 million. ‘Her‘ fell 24%. ‘Gravity‘, ‘12 Years a Slave‘ and ‘Dallas Buyers Club‘ all returned back on more screens. ‘Gravity’ will also hit IMAX 3D screens again starting January 31st.

Top 10:

1. ‘Ride Along’ (Universal) – $41,237,000

2. ‘Lone Survivor’ (Universal) – $23,239,000

3. ‘The Nut Job’ (Open Road) – $20,550,000

4. ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ (Paramount) – $17,200,000

5. ‘Frozen’ (Buena Vista) – $11,971,000

6. ‘American Hustle’ (Sony) – $10,600,000

7. ‘Devil’s Due’ (Fox) – $8,500,000

8. ‘August: Osage County’ (Weinstein) – $7,592,000

9. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (Paramount) – $7,500,000

10. ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ (Buena Vista) – $4,147,000

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