Universal’s ‘Ride Along’ Tops U.S. Box Office With $48.1 Million

“Ride Along,” the buddy comedy with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, led the box office with $48.1 million in ticket sales over the U.S. holiday weekend, giving Universal Pictures its second straight No. 1 release.

“Lone Survivor,” a military drama also released by Comcast Corp.-owned Universal, fell to second place with $26.4 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, Rentrak Corp. said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “The Nut Job,” an animated picture from Open Road Films, opened in third with $25.3 million.

“Ride Along” features Hart as a security guard who tries to impress his prospective brother-in-law. Universal, which ranked third at the domestic box office last year, is benefiting from comedian Hart’s growing popularity, said Phil Contrino, chief analyst for researcher BoxOffice.com. “Lone Survivor,” an action drama based on true events of Navy SEAL commandos, gave audiences a contrasting choice from the studio over the U.S. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

“Hart is very rapidly become an A-list star,” said Contrino. “Both movies speak to the power of diversifying.”

The film’s three-day total of $41.2 million beat a forecast of $34 million from BoxOffice.com and contributed to a 29 percent jump to $212.8 million in the four-day weekend take for all films from a year earlier, Rentrak said.

‘Jack Ryan’

In “Ride Along,” Hart’s character agrees to join his girlfriend’s brother, an Atlanta cop played by Ice Cube, on a 24-hour patrol to prove he’s worthy of marrying his sister and joining the force. The movie got a 15 percent positive rating from critics on RottenTomatoes, a review aggregator, though 76 percent of audience voters approved.

“The plot isn’t much, but Mr. Hart’s fans, at least, are well served by the way his manic energy bounces off Ice Cube’s growly stoicism,” wrote Neil Genzlinger in the New York Times.

“The Nut Job,” about a cantankerous squirrel called Surly who’s banished from his park and forced to survive in the city, collected $20.6 million over three days, more than double the BoxOffice.com estimate of $11.4 million. The film got a 13 percent rating on RottenTomatoes.

Also making its debut was “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” which generated $18 million for Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures for fourth place. The film, starring Chris Pine, is a reboot of the Paramount franchise about the CIA operative, based on the Tom Clancy novels. Ben Affleck was featured in the title character’s role for 2002’s “The Sum of All Fears.”

The movie, which also features Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley, received 62 percent positive reviews on RottenTomatoes. Its $17.2 million tally over three days missed projections for $22 million.

‘Devil’s Due’

The horror movie “Devil’s Due,” the fourth movie to debut in wide release, collected $9.3 million for Twentieth Century Fox to place seventh. The film follows a newlywed couple who find themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy after a lost night on their honeymoon.

Among other returning films, “Frozen,” the animated feature from Walt Disney Co., placed fifth with $16.2 million for Walt Disney Co., bringing its domestic total to $336.9 million.

Oscar-nominated movies “12 Years a Slave,” about a free black man sold into slavery, and “August: Osage County,” following a family that reunites after the death of the matriarch’s husband, expanded in wide release this past weekend.

“12 Years a Slave” collected $1.84 million for Fox Searchlight, bringing its total to $40.9 million. “August: Osage County,” which garnered nominations for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, collected $8.9 million for Weinstein Co.

King Day weekend revenue for the top 10 films rose 41 percent to $176.8 from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Domestic box-office sales total $677.2 million, up 7.8 percent from a year earlier.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for Jan. 17-19, excluding totals from yesterday, except where noted.

                      Rev.  Pct.            Avg./   Total
Movie                (mln)  Chg. Theaters  Theater  (mln)  Wks
1 RIDE ALONG         $41.2   --   2,663  $15,485    $41.2   1
2 LONE SURVIVOR       23.2  -39   2,989    7,775     74.0   4
3 THE NUT JOB         20.6   --   3,427    5,996     20.6   1
4 JACK RYAN: SHADOW   17.2   --   3,387    5,078     17.2   1
5 FROZEN              12.0  -19   2,979    4,018    332.6   9
6 AMERICAN HUSTLE     10.6   28   2,204    4,809    116.4   6
7 DEVIL’S DUE          8.5   --   2,544    3,341      8.5   1
8 AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY 7.6    6   2,051    3,702     18.2   4
9 WOLF OF WALL STREET  7.5  -15   1,930    3,886     90.3   4
10 SAVING MR. BANKS    4.1  -37   2,449    1,693     75.4   6

Top 10 Film Grosses: (Four days)

 This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
   (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
  $176.8       $125.6        +41

Year-to-date Revenue: (through Jan. 20)

   2014          2013
    YTD           YTD        Pct.
   (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
   $677.2       $628.2       +7.8

Source: Rentrak Corp.