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Box Office: Universal Cruises as ‘Ride Along’ Scores Record $47.8 Mil

Slap-stick comedy scores largest opening ever during Martin Luther King weekend

Universal is having a helluva ride at the box office this Martin Luther King weekend, with Kevin Hart-Ice Cube comedy “Ride Along” posting a stellar $41.2 million in three days and $47.8 million in four, making it the holiday frame’s biggest bow ever.

Internationally, Disney’s “Frozen” led the charge with an estimated $24.6 million from 52 territories, representing 89% of the overseas market place. The film opened this weekend in South Korea, where it grossed $8.9 million. In total, “Frozen” has cumed $426.5 million and counting.

In a tight horse-race with Open Road’s toon comedy “The Nut Job,” Universal also scored the No. 2 domestic spot with holdover “Lone Survivor” grossing $23.2 million Friday-Sunday, with $27.6 million through Monday.

The Nut Job” benefited from being the newest animated offering for families since “Frozen,” estimating a solid $20.6 million in three days. The toon received a so-so ‘B’ CinemaScore and should see a stronger-than-usual hold on Monday considering family films are less affected by football on Sunday.

“We knew we were going to do well,” said Open Road topper Tom Ortenberg, “but this certainly was at the top-end of our expectations.”

Open Road estimates “Nut Job” will earn $27.2 million through Martin Luther King day.

Also opening wide this weekend, Paramount’s “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” grossed a disappointing $17.2 million in three days, with $20 million in four. The film, however, performed better internationally, with $22.2 million from only half of the overseas markets.

“There was certainly a lot of competition in the market place for adult-targeted movies,” said Par vice chairman Rob Moore, “but it’s certianly on pace to becoming the highest-grossing film in the franchise internationally.”

Fox’s horror film “Devil’s Due” saw a modest $8.5 million in three days. The film bowed Friday at 2,544 locations domestically.

Most of the competition for adult-skewing films came from wide expansions of Oscar-nominated films, led by Sony’s “American Hustle,” the Weinstein Co.’s “August: Osage County” and Par’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

American Hustle” saw a 28% bump over last weekend, grossing $10.6 million, bringing its domestic cume to $116.4 million. Meanwhile, “August” grossed $7.6 million (for a cume of $18.2 million), followed closely by “Wolf of Wall Street,” which collected $7.5 million Friday-Sunday for a Stateside total of north of $90 million.

Other Academy pics benefiting from multiple nods include Fox Searchlight’s “12 Years a Slave,” which nabbed $1.8 million Friday-Monday at just 760 theaters, as well as Paramount’s “Nebraska,” grossing $1.1 million from 408.

Uber-stellar ‘Ride’

Not surprisingly, “Ride Along,” which cost only $25 million to produce, scored half of its opening from African Americans, with Hispanics comprising 30% of the weekend gross.

The film, however, scored a strong contingency of female moviegoers, outnumbering male auds, at 57%.

Nikki Rocco, prexy of domestic distribution for Universal, said the “timing was perfect for this kind of slap-stick comedy,” adding that there are no sufficient past comparisons from which to draw upon.

“I think all of our filmmakers did an incredible and tireless job working on this film,” she added. “People will be using this film as a comp for this weekend in the future.”

The film, which received an ‘A’ CinemaScore, now has as the second-largest three-day opening for an urban-targeted film behind “Bad Boys II,” which made $46.5 million opening weekend.

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