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Box office preview: 'The Lego Movie' could be 2014's first big 'block'buster

George Clooney and gorgeous teenage vampires have a formidable box office foe this weekend: Legos. And it looks like both will crumble in the face of the tiny plastic figurines.

The idea of a Lego movie seems absurd on paper. A cynical, nostalgia-based cash grab akin to Battleship exploits, right? Well, Warner Bros. and its co-financier Village Roadshow seem not only to have avoided those trappings, but created a film that transcends the medium thanks to wry writing and directing team Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who charmed with both Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. EW’s Owen Gleiberman wrote in his “A” review: “It may be a helter-skelter kiddie adventure built out of plastic toy components, but it’s fast and original, it’s conceptually audacious, it’s visually astonishing, and it’s 10 times more clever and smart and funny than it needed to be.”

In a box office market where Frozen has dominated the family slate for over 11 weeks (with an honorable mention for The Nut Job), The Lego Movie looks primed to walk away with 2014′s biggest opening to date.

Here’s how things might play out this weekend:

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Box office update: 'Ride Along' stays on top with $12 million

It’s no easy task getting people to the theaters on Super Bowl weekend. But Universal’s Ride Along managed to cruise right on by new releases such as That Awkward Moment and Labor Day for its third straight weekend in the top spot, earning an estimated $12 million and bringing its total to $93 million.

The takeaway from this will surely be that of the bankable talents of Kevin Hart. The comedian has long lent a helping hand in films (Think Like a Man, This is the End) to say nothing of his popular stand-up specials. His easy chemistry with Ice Cube helped lift Ride Along to an “A” approval rating with CinemaScore and this seems to be the movie that will finally push Hart into a new stratosphere of stardom. (Personally, I’m very excited for Hart to join Louis C.K. in an a yet untitled animated film from the creator of Despicable Me. Hart will be playing a bunny, Snowball, who is the leader of abandoned pets.)

And that’s not the only good news for Universal: Lone Survivor, directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch and Emile Hirsch, crossed the $100 million dollar mark this weekend, making an additional $7.2 million. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Ride Along' continues to roll with $4 million on Friday

We are officially living in a golden Hart and Cube era: Universal’s comedy Ride Along continues to dominate the box office — after breaking the record for a January opening in its first two weekends — bringing in an additional estimated $4 million on Friday night. This brings the Kevin Hart/Ice Cube $25 million comedy up to a total of $84.7 million.

But That Awkward Moment is definitely in Ride Along‘s rearview mirror: for its opening weekend in 2,809 locations, the bromantic comedy took in an estimated $3.9 million on Friday. Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, and Zac Efron are nice counter-programming for women on Super Bowl weekend, but Focus Features was probably hoping for a bigger debut.

Meanwhile, in addition to claiming the No. 1 slot, there’s more good news for Universal: Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor took in an estimated $2.3 million on Friday, bringing its domestic total to just about the magical $100 million dollar mark. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'That Awkward Moment' may push 'Ride Along' to sidelines

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Bro-dominated buddy comedies are set to face off Super Bowl weekend and it looks like the guys of That Awkward Moment might see Ride Along slowing to a crawl after two weekends of box-office dominance. Jason Reitman’s romantic drama Labor Day, starring Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet, is opening wide and Disney is also trying something new with the addition of the Frozen sing-along version — it was Fandango’s top-seller this past week.

Not surprisingly, Super Bowl weekend is notoriously slow at the movies. Last year the romantic zombie comedy Warm Bodies opened just over $20 million in the same timeframe, while male-targeted films, including Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet to the Head, bombed. This weekend seems poised to continue the trend as game day approaches.

Here’s how things might play out:

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Box office report: 'Ride Along' runs over 'I, Frankenstein'

The Kevin Hart comedy Ride Along continued to speed through a typically quiet box-office frame, while the monster thriller I, Frankenstein couldn’t be roused from the dead.

Universal’s buddy cop comedy Ride Along, co-starring Ice Cube, cruised to the top of the box office again, taking in $21.2 million in its second weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. The film last week set a January debut record, with $48.6 million over the three-day holiday weekend.

For the second weekend in a row, Universal claimed No. 1 and No. 2 at the box office, with the Afghanistan war film Lone Survivor earning $12.6 million in its fifth week. With a cumulative total of $93.6 million, the relatively inexpensive Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg, will soon cross the $100 million mark. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'I, Frankenstein' won't look alive next to 'Ride Along'

Only one new release is hitting theaters this weekend: I, Frankenstein, the Aaron Eckhart action thriller with a distinctly Van Helsing/Underworld vibe to it. Chances are, the creature feature won’t be able to lurch past Ride Along to capture a weekend win. Here’s how the box office might play out:

1. Ride Along – $21 million
The Ice Cube/Kevin Hart buddy cop comedy scored the best January opening of all time last weekend, drawing $41.5 million in its first three days (and $48.6 million over the extended holiday frame). A 50 percent drop would give it another $21 million and a scorching $75 million total.
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Box office report: 'Ride Along' dominates with $47.8 million, breaks January record

It’s good to be Kevin Hart and Ice Cube this weekend. The increasingly ubiquitous Hart, who recently told EW that Ride Along is “my baby,” scored big with a $41.2 million opening weekend for the buddy-cop comedy. That should jump to an estimated $47.8 million when one factors in the Monday MLK Jr. holiday. Not only does the impressive haul surpass expectations for Universal’s leanly budgeted $25 million comedy, but it also breaks the record for a January opening. (If you’re still not sold on the Hart/Cube pairing, whose chemistry lifted the film to an “A” approval rating with CinemaScore audiences, let this stupendous spot on Conan give you a taste of their chemistry.)

Universal folks have further reason to thrust their chests out this weekend. Buoyed by rapturous word of mouth, the studio’s real-SEAL heart-thumper Lone Survivor dropped just 38 percent to deliver an impressive $23.2 million in its fourth weekend. Director Peter Berg, whose Battleship bombed so badly, made Lone Survivor for $40 million and now can boast about a $74 million domestic total.

Sliding into the No. 3 spot is Open Road Films’ animated The Nut Job. With families looking for holiday entertainment, The Nut Job should swap places with Lone Survivor by the end of Monday. The squirrel comedy, which earned a solid “B” rating from CinemaScore audiences, managed to outperform its modest expectations.

Alas, the same can’t be said for Paramount’s stab at rebooting its Jack Ryan franchise, with Star Trek actor Chris Pine playing the action-hero CIA agent who’s previously been played by the likes of Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which the studio made for $60 million, debuts at a rather limp No. 4 with just $17.2 million. A “B” CinemaScore rating shouldn’t do much to attract moviegoers distracted by all the Oscar-nominated films they want to see before the big show. That said, Shadow Recruit fared better overseas, with $22.2 million from only half of the international markets.

Frozen hung on in the No. 5 spot, with Disney’s domestic kitty now totaling nearly $333 million. But hot on its heels was American Hustle, which earned 10 Oscar nominations and last night walked away with a SAG award for best ensemble cast. David O. Russell’s caper, starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence, enjoyed a 28 percent jump with a $10.6 million haul in its sixth weekend; its total gross rose to $116.4 million. The Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts family drama August: Osage County likewise enjoyed a jump in box office to $7.6 million as it more than doubled its theater count to 2,051; its cume stands at nearly $18.2 million.

The only other other notable new release is Devil’s Due, Eli Roth’s found-footage horror movie that was hoping to benefit from its mega-viral “Devil Baby” campaign. The film failed to crack the top 5 and earned a dismal “D+” CinemaScore rating. That’s a bleak showing, and yet the $7 million film already recouped its investment with an $8.5 million debut.

The top five:

1. Ride Along — $41.2 million

2. Lone Survivor — $23.2 million

3. The Nut Job — $20.55 million

4. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit — $17.2 million

5. Frozen— $12 million

Box office update: 'Ride Along' cruises ahead to $14.5 million on Friday

Kevin Hart, who has four movies coming out this year and will likely be a player in many coming box office updates, and Ice Cube topped Friday’s box office with their new buddy cop comedy Ride Along. The Universal picture, made for a lean $25 million, earned $14.5 million on its first night and should continue to stir up brisk business over the long MLK Jr. holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, Lone Survivor, buoyed by exceedingly strong word of mouth, shows true grit in the No. 2 spot, with $6.7 million on Friday. Director Peter Berg’s real-SEAL heart thumper now stands tall at $57.5 million in domestic totals. READ FULL STORY

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

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:
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'Ride Along' teaser trailer: Can Kevin Hart win over Ice Cube?

Ride Along, an upcoming buddy comedy from Universal, pairs Kevin Hart’s jittery, fast-talking security guard Ben with Ice Cube’s glowering, tough-as-nails cop James. (So much for effing tha police.)

The premise: Ben is dating Angela (Tika Sumpter, late of Gossip Girl). James, Angela’s overly protective older brother, doesn’t approve of the union — specifically, because Ben is both a “clown” and a “little man-Smurf.” When Ben tells James that he’s planning to propose, the cop asks Ben to prove his worth by coming with him on a ride-along. Think Training Day minus drama, plus Kevin Hart being thrust into a wall by a gun’s recoil.

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