Ride Along 2
Courtesy of Universal

Its long reign is over.

After four weeks atop box office charts, Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has ceded first place to Universal’s “Ride Along 2.” The comedy sequel picked up a commanding $34 million across 3,175 venues and $39.5 million over the four-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend. The space opera slid to third place with $25.1 million for the three days and roughly $30 million for the four-day period. It has earned $851 million Stateside to become the highest-grossing domestic release in history, and $1.86 billion globally.

Universal spent $40 million re-teaming Ice Cube and Kevin Hart for “Ride Along 2,” which finds the bickering police officers working to bring a Miami drug ring to justice. The audience skewed slightly more female, with women making up 52% of the opening weekend audience. African-Americans and Hispanics were the biggest demographic sector, each representing 34% of the crowd. The rest of “Ride Along 2” viewers were 22% Caucasian, 5% Asian, and 5% were “other.”

“It’s a very funny movie,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief. “We have a very committed group of filmmakers and our cast has been promoting the heck out of it.”

The “Ride Along” follow-up premiered on the same weekend as the first film, but did fall short of its debut. The first picture brought in $41.5 million for the three days and $48.6 million over the longer holiday period when it kicked off in 2014.

Fox’s “The Revenant” was bolstered by its strong showing at the Oscar nominations on Thursday when the wilderness epic picked up a leading 12 nods, including ones for Best Picture and for the performances of stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.

“This is the movie that has the awards momentum,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “The Oscar attention is taking it to the next level.”

The story of a fur trapper seeking revenge racked up $29.5 million over the three days. Its domestic total stands at $87.7 million and “The Revenant” should pull in $34 million over the holiday. New Regency financed the ambitious film, which battled production delays, crew defections, and a budget that ballooned from $90 million to $135 million, to emerge as an awards season winner.

Paramount’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” flirted with political controversy, drawing a rebuke from a CIA spokesman. While enraging liberal critics, it managed to pull off a $16 million opening over the three days. The $50 million production will do an estimated $19 million over the holiday.

“13 Hours” screened at 2,389 locations. The 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya resulted in the killing of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Opponents of the Obama administration have faulted the president’s team for its response to the attack and for not being forthcoming about warnings it received that the compound might have been in danger. Given the divisive nature of the subject matter, it’s unsurprising that the picture did much better in the South and in red states, where it over-performed more liberal areas by 25%. Those who saw it, liked it, handing it an A CinemaScore.

“We feel it’s going to continue to be a topic of conversation and debate,” said Rob Moore, Paramount’s vice-chairman. “We think it will be a movie that’s going to be around for awhile.”

Lionsgate’s “Norm Of The North” pulled in $6.7 million from 2,411 locations. The animated film about a polar bear who is displaced from his Arctic home and makes his way to New York City, should do $8.8 million worth of business over the four-day span.

“The Revenant” wasn’t the only Oscar nominee to enjoy a bump. Fox Searchlight’s “Brooklyn” saw its receipts climb 51% to $2 million from 687 theaters, bringing its total to $25 million. Fellow Best Picture nominee “Room” saw its revenue spike up over 500%, topping out at $893,357 for the weekend from 293 locations. The A24 release has earned $6.2 million.

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