Box office preview: 'Ride Along' will nab more attention than 'Jack Ryan'

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Image Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert

Last week, Lone Survivor targeted the top spot at the box office — and accomplished its mission with impressive marks. The Mark Wahlberg SEAL picture grossed a stunning $37.8 million, and thanks to its “A+” CinemaScore, it’s set to bring in the big bucks once again this time around. Of course, two high-profile newcomers won’t make it easy for the drama over the extended Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Buddy cop comedy Ride Along has the best shot at breaking out, and it looks poised to earn back its budget (and then some) over the four-day frame. Paramount’s franchise launchpad Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit will also bring in sizable crowds, though animated flick The Nut Job and horror entry Devil’s Due will have a harder time. So, is this Lone Survivor‘s weekend to lose? Here’s how things might shake out during the Friday-to-Monday period:

1. Ride Along – $37 million
Comedians don’t always have the most enduring box office records, but, as stars like Vince Vaughn and Melissa McCarthy have proved in recent years, when they’re hot, everything they touch seems to turn to gold. That’s where Kevin Hart is in his career. He’s helped movies like Think Like A Man and his stand-up doc Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain score great box-office numbers, and he brought eyeballs to BET’s highly rated Real Husbands of Hollywood. In Universal’s $25 million buddy cop comedy Ride Along, Hart teams up with Ice Cube — and the pairing has viewers’ interest piqued. Universal has marketed the film heavily to African-Americans, though they expect a diverse showing — including a diversity of ages thanks to the comedy’s PG-13 rating. Out in 2,662 locations, Ride Along may ride away with about $37 million over the four-day weekend.

2. Lone Survivor – $29 million
The real-SEAL action drama scored with viewers, and word-of-mouth for the film is largely positive. It would achieve a slim drop regardless, but the holiday weekend will only help Lone Survivor survive in its second weekend. A $29 million haul from Friday-to-Monday would give Universal’s $40 million effort a strong $80 million after ten days in theaters.

3. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – $20 million
Star Trek actor Chris Pine stepped into the role of Jack Ryan, a popular spy character created by author Tom Clancy, for Paramount’s $60 million espionage thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Ryan has actually been a fixture at the box office since 1990, having been played by Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games), and Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears) — but Shadow Recruit is Paramount’s attempt to launch a true franchise. Because the box office is rife with serious dramas and awards-season standouts right now, the action film may offer audiences craving simple popcorn pleasure a nice alternative, and marketing has showcased its sleek modern action. Also starring Keira Knightley and Kevin Costner, Shadow Recruit may gross a so-so $20 million over four days.

4. Frozen – $15 million
The Disney smash isn’t going away any time soon — especially not after a few Oscar nominations. Frozen may earn slightly more in four days than it did in three days last weekend, ticking up just a notch to $15 million for a $336 million total.

5. The Nut Job – $14 million
Despite a solid advertising campaign, the animated squirrel comedy hasn’t been able to emerge from Frozen‘s formidable shadow, and it seems likely to play like Free Birds, which gobbled up $15.8 million over its opening weekend in November. Open Road Films is distributing The Nut Job, which cost about $42 million to produce (or about $30 million after tax breaks), and opening it in 3,427 theaters. Still, it doesn’t have the cachet of Disney, DreamWorks, or even Fox animation working in its favor — and audiences tend to prove rather disinterested in less polished animated films from smaller studios. Thus, The Nut Job may only crack open about $12 million in its first four days.

Fox’s horror film Devil’s Due is only expected to pull in about $7 million over opening weekend — despite the mega-viral “Devil Baby Attack” advertisement, which has racked up over 30 million views online. Fortunately for Fox, the film carries a slim $7 million budget as well. Also, look out for great holds or perhaps some slight Oscar boosts for nominated films like The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, and Her.

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