ridealongfeature

Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News for Movie Lovers

With the Golden Globes, Academy Awards, Sundance Film Festival and The Razzies monopolizing the media’s movie coverage, one would be hard pressed to notice that this is a pretty big weekend in Hollywood.

Four new flicks hit screens over the extended MLK weekend, with Universal’s urban comedy “Ride Along” and Paramount’s Tom Clancy reboot “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” poised to take aim at “Lone Survivor” for the top spot.

That leaves Fox’s chill pill “Devil’s Due” and Open Road’s animated “The Nut Job” fighting for cinematic scraps, however don’t count out low-budget horror, as it may be the wild card this weekend.

While “Ride Along” isn’t exactly a film of comedic destiny, it is the first African American comedy offered up in quite some time by the studios, as well as Kevin Hart’s first tailor-made starring vehicle.

With his partner, Ice Cube, already having massive success with his multiple franchises, “Are We There Yet?,” “Barbershop” and “Friday,” Cube’s pairing with motor-mouth Hart is an obvious one. And even though “Ride Along” makes “Rush Hour” look like “Serpico,” it should appease fans of the action-comedy genre.

Lazy film-making aside, Hart nearly saves “Ride Along” on his own, however it just goes to show you how good “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Lethal Weapon” still are, as they both walked the line between comedy and action with brains and brawn. This PG-13 comedy does neither, but it’s relatively harmless, and good for a couple solid laughs here and there.

Despite locking down just 2,600+ theaters and getting lambasted by reviewers (11% on Rotten Tomatoes) don’t be surprised if “Ride Along” hits fast and hard with $28M.

Infiltrating over 3,300+ theaters, Paramount’s latest Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan reboot, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” will play directly to audiences that just saw “Lone Survivor” last week, so it might be in for a bumpy ride…at least initially.

Still, there are plenty of Tom Clancy fans, and there hasn’t been an adaptation of his work in over a decade, when Ben Affleck’s “The Sum of All Fears” opened with a series-high $31M and grossed $194M globally circa 2002.

All told, Clancy’s four previous adaptations—“The Sum of All Fears,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Patriot Games,” and “Clear & Present Danger”—have totaled $788M worldwide. This installment should push it close to $1 billion, and with a cost of just $60M, expect more to follow, especially if this hits big overseas.

That, of course, rests squarely on the shoulders of Chris Pine, aka Captain James T. Kirk, as he’s become Paramount’s go-to company man.

Needless to say, Pine pulls off a great action performance (something I rarely say), and if “Star Trek” didn’t convince folks he’s a major, brooding star, “Jack Ryan” should do the trick. And with Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh and Keira Knightley in supporting roles, they add depth for a genre that, let’s be honest, doesn’t often strive for greatness. Considering the wealth of stories Clancy left behind, this could easily become a trilogy.

After being subjected to “The Legend of Hercules” and “Ride Along” I can safely say with “Shadow Recruit” there is a January release actually worth trekking to theaters for.  And for that, we should all thank The Creator. Who, in this case, is actor/director Branagh.

Look for a fairly soft debut of around $22M for “Jack Ryan,” but with it holding very well throughout the next couple weeks.

With three films projected to do $20+M worth of business, that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle-room for Fox’s horror entry, “Devil’s Due.” But isn’t that just how the devil likes to work? The minute you don’t believe, he strikes.

Remember, Paramount’s R-rated “The Devil Inside” absolutely possessed audiences when it debuted with $33M two years ago, however it faced absolutely zero new competition. Still, films about possession and Beelzebub routinely over perform at the box office, so watch your back.

In 2,500+ venues, expect the chill pill to snatch $16M this weekend, possibly more, if teens show up en masse to witness the rebirth of horror.

Not to be left out over an extended weekend is the family audience, which leaves us with the kiddie pic, “The Nut Job.” A film starring Will Arnett, Liam Neeson and Katherine Heigl sounds like something a lot of people would nut up for, however this is no Disney, DreamWorks or Universal toon. No, this dropped to Open Road Films: purveyor of questionable pics since 2011—their latest being “Justin Bieber’s Believe,” “Homefront” and “Machete Kills.”

That said, 3,400+ theaters is a lot places to hide nuts, and combined with a long weekend, well, that may be enough to drive parents nutty if they don’t get their silly squirrels out of the house for at least 90 minutes. Nut stash: $11M.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. RIDE ALONG – $28M
  2. JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT – $22M
  3. LONE SURVIVOR – $21M
  4. DEVIL’S DUE – $16M
  5. THE NUT JOB – $11M

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SPLICE OF LIFE: CINEMATIC BLURBS, BLIPS, CUTS & CLIPS

ILLUMINATION ENTERTAINMENT SHEDS LIGHT ON NEW TITLES

Buoyed by the success of “Despicable Me” and, more precisely, the minions, Universal’s Illumination is getting ready to take on Disney and DreamWorks Animation with an ambitious slate of toons, including “Despicable Me 3.”

Just like DreamWorks rode the mighty green giant, Shrek, to $3.5 billion worldwide, solidifying their position in the animated area, Universal has grand plans for minion dominion as the “Minions” is already set for July 10, 2015, while “Despicable Me 3” will drop June 30, 2017.

Not content with just the oogly-googly eyed, yellow fellows running the show, Universal is widely expanding their toon platoon with a new take on the holiday classic “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” which arrives Nov. 17, 2107  and a currently untitled project set for Dec. 21, 2016 that will see Garth Jennings (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) direct an original animated comedy about “courage, competition and carrying a tune.”

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FOX SEARCHLIGHT DOES THE UNTHINKABLE: A SEQUEL

With multiplexes filled to the gills with sequels, reboots and rehashes on any given weekend, it was just a matter of time before sequelitis infected arthouses too.

The film of choice? Fox Searchlight’s “The Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Just don’t call it a sequel, call it “the follow-up companion feature” as their press release referred to it as. Still, it’s got a “2” behind it, which is something that’s taken Fox’s indie shingle nearly 150 films to finally tack on to one of their titles. Personally, I’m just surprised they didn’t go with “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Juno” or “Super Troopers,” but, then again, thankfully it wasn’t  “The Tree of Life” or “Phat Girlz.” Holla.

Seems to me half the cast died of old-age, or boredom in the original, but nonetheless Dame Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel and Bill Nighy all return, as does director John Madden. Also checking in for part two will be Richard Gere and David Strathairn.

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” debuted in May 2012 in North America and saw its box office bloom to $46M and $136M worldwide on a tidy budget of just $10M. No wonder Fox Searchlight is checking in again. The sequel just began shooting in India, with the release date TBA.

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THERE’S NO STOPPING THOSE DAMN, DIRTY APES

This is hardly “Dusk of the Planet of the Apes” (although I wouldn’t mind a new cologne called “Musk of the Planet of the Apes”) or “Midnight of the Planet of the Apes,” more like “Mid-Afternoon of the Planet of the Apes” as Fox has designated the “Planet of the Apes” franchise one of their top priorities, already setting the ninth film of the Planet of the Apes franchise, “Untitled Planet of the Apes” for July 29, 2016.

In fact, Fox brass is so pleased with the latest installment, this summer’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” that they’ve already tapped Matthew Vaughn, who directs “Dawn.” SPOILER ALERT! I guess it’s safe to assume the humans don’t eradicate the apes from the planet this summer, eh? Where’s the Chiquita Banana Girl when you need her? She could do the job.

With the success of Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” as well as 2010’s surprise hit “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” Fox has evolved the once-cheesy series into one of the most unlikely franchises, earning $843M worldwide between the pair. Much is expected from  “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which recently moved up into the July 11 slot after Universal pushed “Fast & Furious 7” to Spring  2015.

 “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (July 11, 2014)

The 5th film of the original series , 1973’s “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” 

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: The Weinstein Company’s “Snowpiercer” (TBA)

Is this a long-lost Steven Seagal movie? Nope. This is South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s (“The Host” – 2006 version) sci-fi action thriller that The Weinstein Company has  distribution rights to, but as of yet hasn’t locked down a North American release date. Starring Chris Evans (“Captain America”), John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer and Ed Harris, the $40M picture has already crushed box office records in Bong’s backyard, having chugged down nearly $60M in South Korea. This looks gloriously campy…in the best possible sense!

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CLASSIC CUT OF THE WEEK: Universal’s original trailer for “Waterworld” 

Do we really need a reason to showcase Kevin Costner’s aquatic opus? No. If it were up to me, this would be included on a weekly basis. Truth is, every man in the world loves this film, and if he doesn’t, he is a liar or a philistine.

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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“Ride Along” Poster Courtesy of Universal Pictures; Poster Design by Ignition Print