This weekend, the buddy comedy sequel Ride Along 2 earned the distinction of booting all-time champ Star Wars: The Force Awakens from the number one spot pulling in an estimated $41.6M in its debut across the four-day Martin Luther King holiday period. The Universal hit averaged a terrific $13,087 from 3,175 locations and watched its domestic gross match its production budget on the opening weekend.
Kevin Hart and Ice Cube reprised their roles from the 2014 smash hit and the studio even slotted the release for the same exact weekend. The sequel opened 15% below the $48.6M four-day bow of its predecessor. However, given how franchise fatigue is a bigger issue nowadays and how so many sequels open below their previous installments, Ride Along 2 ended up with a very admirable take. It ranks as the fourth best MLK weekend debut ever after American Sniper, the first Ride Along, and the J. J. Abrams-produced Cloverfield.
The Friday-to-Sunday portion amassed $35.3M and gave superstar Hart his fifth $25M+ opener over the past two years which is an incredible feat. Marks from critics and moviegoers alike were more harsh this time around which is understandable for a comedy sequel intended to just entertain popcorn crowds and make cash in the process.
Studio exit poll data showed that ticket sales were powered by ethnic audiences broken down by 34% black, 34% Latino, 22% white, 5% Asian, and 5% other. Cross-gender appeal was solid as the split was a nice 52/48 while 55% were under 25. Part 2 is not expected to have the legs of the first Ride Along, but a final gross near the $100M mark seems possible kicking off another good year for Universal.
Ice Cube will stay in comedy-sequel mode returning to theaters in April with Barbershop: The Next Cut while Hart hits primetime with the summer action-comedy vehicle Central Intelligence teaming up with Dwayne Johnson opening in June.
Holding steady at number two was Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant which led all of Hollywood with 12 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, coming into the weekend. The acclaimed period drama grossed an estimated $39M over four days pushing its total up to a stellar $97.2M. This was only the Fox film’s second round of wide release and it averaged a muscular $10,958 from 3,559 locations over the long weekend.
Strong reviews, awards buzz, and the starpower of the Titanic actor have all contributed to the large pull the movie has seen at the multiplexes. This is a hard movie to sell so the exclusive run over the holidays followed by the early January expansion has worked wonders. Revenant also scored points a week ago when it won big at the Golden Globes taking home Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, and Best Actor for Leo. He repeated this weekend at the Critics Choice Awards and is the clear front-runner to take home Oscar gold on February 28.
Future weeks look promising for The Revenant which has plenty of untapped potential. On Tuesday or Wednesday it will become Leo’s tenth career hit to cross $100M domestic and it certainly has a shot at becoming his third to crack $200M joining the iceberg hit and Inception.
After a four-week reign at number one, the all-time domestic box office champ Star Wars: The Force Awakens slipped down to third with an estimated $32.6M over the four-day extended frame. The three-day portion of $26.4M was down a reasonable 38% from last weekend vaulting the record cume to $858.5M.
By comparison, the former all-time leaders from James Cameron made more in their fifth weekends (also four-day MLK frames) – $54.4M for Avatar and $36M for Titanic. All three films opened a week before Christmas and sailed into the new year still in the top spot. With no Best Picture Oscar nomination to extend its legs, the Kylo Ren film looks on course to break $900M and finish off at about $915M.
3D and IMAX ticket pricing have helped in turbo-charging the grosses, as have today’s high standard ticket prices. Calculating approximate domestic admissions figures, the new Star Wars has actually sold roughly 25% fewer tickets than Titanic did during its historic run in 1997-1998 when the average movie ticket price was below $5.
Overseas, Force smashed the $1 billion mark from international territories this weekend and boosted the worldwide total to $1.88 billion through Monday making it the third largest global blockbuster of all-time after Cameron’s dynamic duo. Totals (through Sunday) from the top offshore markets include the United Kingdom’s $168.6M, Germany’s $100.1M, China’s $95.2M, France’s $80M, Japan’s $73.5M, and Australia’s $60.7M. Force is on course to complete its worldwide run at about $2.1 billion which would not be enough to surpass the $2.19 billion lifetime tally of the Jack & Rose romance.
Michael Bay’s new military drama 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi enjoyed a decent opening in fourth place with an estimated $19.7M over the four-day frame from 2,389 theaters for a sturdy $8,225 average. Three-day figures were $16.2M and a $6,789 average. Given the scale of the release, the Paramount title scored an average that was commendable. However the gross was well below what many past military-themed hits have generated in the January-February timeframe.
13 Hours opened below films like Zero Dark Thirty, Lone Survivor, and Act of Valor which all debuted in the $24-38M range. All were films about U.S. soldiers that tapped into post-holiday patriotism. Last year’s American Sniper was a monster hit opening wide to a record-shattering $107.2M this same four-day weekend, however Hours was not expected to come anywhere close to that level. Audience feedback has been very good so nice legs may result over the weeks ahead. The CinemaScore grade was an A.
Cornering the mainstream comedy market over the holidays, Daddy’s Home dropped to fifth in its fourth weekend with an estimated $12M putting Paramount at a solid $132M to date. The road ahead could very well lead to a $150M finish which would be the second highest ever for Will Ferrell in the lead role of a live-action film.
Failing to excite family audiences was the first new toon offering of 2016, Norm of the North. The PG-rated pic opened poorly in sixth with an estimated $9.3M from 2,411 theaters for a lackluster four-day average of $3,868. Film critics panned the movie, starpower from the voice cast was low, and there was no brand here that kids were already familiar with. And with so many kids still interested in the adventures of BB8, there were few left willing to pay to see this option. Lionsgate has a two-week run before Kung Fu Panda 3 takes away its audiences and screens.
Falling to seventh place in its second weekend was the horror flick The Forest with an estimated $7M for Focus. The PG-13 chiller dropped 53% over the three-day portion which was average for the genre. Cume stands at $22.3M.
Best Picture nominee The Big Short had a nice weekend taking in estimated $6.5M to raise its total to $51.8M for Paramount. Off just 14% over the Friday-to-Sunday span, the R-rated hit is showing great legs as more people become interested in the all-star vehicle which features Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt plus an assortment of bad wigs. With its Best Comedy win at the Critics Choice Awards adding to its resume, upside potential is substantial over the weeks ahead as it sits as a major contender that also overflows with starpower and timely subject matter.
Former Golden Globe hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler followed with their R-rated comedy hit Sisters which grossed an estimated $5.5M putting Universal at $82M overall. A solid final of about $90M seems likely. Add in Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck and Melissa McCarthy’s Spy and audiences have already spent over $300M on the raunchy funny ladies of 2015.
Quentin Tarantino is seeing some of the lowest numbers of his career with his latest project The Hateful Eight which has been fading fast. The Weinstein Co. release made an estimated $4.4M over the long weekend for a new cume of $48.6M. The final gross should be roughly $55M which will be the lowest gross for a Tarantino solo effort since 1997’s Jackie Brown. Starpower and awards buzz are both significantly less this time compared to the director’s last film Django Unchained which ended up winning a pair of major Oscars.
Below the top ten, Oscar contenders saw strong results following the announcements of Academy Award nominations on Thursday with many Best Picture contenders seeing their weekend grosses shoot upwards. Spotlight, which also took home the Critics Choice Award for Best Picture on Sunday night, grossed an estimated $2.1M boosting Open Road’s cume to $31.1M. The three-day portion enjoyed a healthy 78% surge from last weekend with added screens helping too.
Fox Searchlight’s period drama Brooklyn collected an estimated $2.2M for a new sum of $25.2M. Room expanded wider and grossed an estimated $893,000 over four days giving A24 $6.2M to date. Increases over the Friday-to-Sunday period were 68% and 504%, respectively. In its 16th frame, Ridley Scott’s The Martian did not expand but it did see its weekend take a nice 21% uptick to an estimated $555,000. Cume through Monday is a giant $227.2M and by the end of the week it will surpass The Bourne Ultimatum to become Matt Damon’s highest grossing film ever.
Films not making the cut for a Best Picture Oscar nod but earning nominations in other categories like acting fared well too as they tried to reach broader audiences. The Weinstein Co. romance Carol took in an estimated $1.8M while Focus saw an estimated $898,000 for The Danish Girl. New cumes are $9.5M and $8.9M, respectively. The three-day figures suffered only minor drops.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $177.5M over four days which was down 20% from last year when American Sniper opened at number one with a record $107.2M; but even with 2014 when Ride Along debuted in the top spot with $48.6M.