‘Ride Along’ In High Gear, ‘Hustle’ Tops Oscar Contenders at Friday Box Office

The Kevin Hart-Ice Cube comedy is on $40M pace for Martin Luther King Day weekend; “The Nut Job” is beating “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”

Last Updated: July 10, 2014 @ 7:14 PM

“Ride Along” kicked it into overdrive at the box office Friday with a huge $14.4 million first day. The animated kids movie “The Nut Job” had a strong debut too, and was beating the Martin Luther King Day weekend’s other two openers, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” and the horror film “Devil’s Due.”

The Kevin Hart/Ice Cube comedy was blowing the doors off analysts’ expectations and heading for around $40 million for the four days. It received an “A” CinemaScore from audiences, and is in range of the best MLK weekend ever, which was the $46.1 “Cloverfield” opened with in 2008.

The big opening for “Ride Along” was the second in a row for distributor Universal, which last weekend saw its Afghan War drama “Lone Survivor” explode with a similarly massive first day and go on to finish No. 1. The Mark Wahlberg action film was running second after a $6.6 million Friday, and is looking at a four-day total near $27 million.

Also read: Warner Bros. Pushes ‘Batman vs. Superman’ Back 10 Months to ‘Fully Realize Vision’

Both of those films target males, and their over-performance isn’t helping the Chris Pine spy saga “Shadow Recruit,” which Paramount is hoping can reboot its “Jack Ryan” franchise after 12 years.

The Kenneth Branaugh-directed PG-13-rated thriller was running fifth after a $5.4 million Friday that put it on pace for an $18 million four-day total, just meeting the studio’s projection. First-night audiences gave it a “B” CinemaScore.

The animated family film “The Nut Job” opened in third with an impressive $4.8 million Friday. The first animated release from Open Road beat “Frozen,” which was fourth with $2.5 million Friday, and is heading for a $24 million four-day total – way above pre-release expectations. Will Arnett voices the squirrel Surly in “The Nut Job,” which also features Brendan Fraser, Gabriel Iglesias, Liam Neeson and Katherine Heigl. Its CinemaScore was a “B.”

Also read: 9 Burning Box Office Questions: Can ‘Divergent’ Live Up to the Hype? Will ‘Veronica Mars’ Validate Crowdfunding?

Disney’s animated blockbuster “Frozen” continues to show incredible staying power. It was off just 19 percent from last Friday and is on pace for a sixth week north of $18 million for four days. It has raised its total to $323 million domestically and more than $715 million globally.

The overall weekend – with four wide openers and several expanding or re-released Best Picture Oscar nominees — is extremely crowded and is on pace to hit $200 million.

Fox’s R-rated “Devil’s Due” had a $3.4 million first-day Friday and is looking at around $10 million for the long weekend, in line with modest expectations for the low-budget chiller. Its CinemaScore was a “D+” — low even for typically tough-grading horror fans.

“Devil’s Due” was running seventh behind “American Hustle,” by far the best performing of the Oscar contenders.

Also read: Movie Ticket Prices Hit Record High in 2013

David O. Russell’s quirky con man comedy actually rose 11 percent from last Friday despite dropping about 425 screens and took in $2.8 million, a clear indicator that Thursday’s slew of Oscar nominations caught moviegoers’ attention. It’s on pace for roughly $12 million over the four days, and has upped its domestic total to $108 million.

In eighth was “August: Osage County.” The Weinstein Company added 1,146 theaters in the wake of Oscar nominations for stars Meryl Streep and Julie Roberts, and it took in just over $2 million Friday. That’s a so-so $1,010 per-screen average that translates to a four-day total of around $9 million.

Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” was ninth and looking at more than $8 million for the long weekend after taking in $2 million Friday. The R-rated black comedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill is up to $82 million domestically.

Warner Bros.’ “Her” didn’t get much of a bump from its Best Picture Oscar nomination. The Joaquin Phoenix romance about a man who falls for his operating system took in $1.1 million from 1,165 screens, a soft $655,000 per-screen average.

Also read: Oscar Best Picture Nominations: Whose Box-Office Bounce is Biggest? ‘Her,’ ‘Philomena’ and Other Slow Starters

None of the re-released Oscar hopefuls did much. Warner Bros.’ “Gravity,” which was back on 944 screens, brought in $467,000.  Fox Searchlight’s “12 Years a Slave” did $388,000 in 761 theaters and Sony’s “Captain Phillips” was in 904 theaters and took in just $140,000.

TWC’s “Philomena” brought in $356,000 from 506 theaters, Paramount’s “Nebraska” took in $243,000 from 408 sites and Focus Features’ “Dallas Buyers Club” added $237,000 from 419 locations.