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Ride Along 2… This Weekend’s Leader Of The Pack?

Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

Yeah, yeah, we all know: “The Force Awakens” is an absolute juggernaut, and is already the third highest-grossing film in the universe with $1.780B.

JJ Abrams’ film has amassed numerous records along the way; yet for all its dominance, the sci-fi saga won’t end up topping the #1 film worldwide, “Avatar,” which blasted out of theaters with $2.78B and held down the top spot for seven straight weeks domestically.

“The Force Awakens” was nearly toppled in its fourth weekend by the sheer force of Leonardo DiCaprio, as “The Reverant” over-performed with $38M and looks headed for Oscar glory as well picking up 12 nominations, the most of any film this year.

However, back to the holiday weekend at hand. What will no doubt be a trivia question one day–who took down “Episode VII” at the box office? “Ride Along 2.”

If 2016 is the year of the sequel, it’s only fitting that Ice Cube and Kevin Hart’s continuing buddy-cop saga will snag box office belt from the masters of the known universe, domestically speaking.

Yes, with $819M and counting in North America, and still earning over $3M on weekdays, “The Force Awakens” will be #1 domestically for a long, long time. Not even “Episode VIII” or “Avatar 2” will venture into these mystic box office territories. Novelty and nostalgia can only go so far, folks.

Universal’s “Ride Along” jumped on the Kevin Hart bandwagon exactly two years ago in 2014 and saw him debut with his highest mark ever–$41M. Should come close to that number again as MLK weekend has proven to be the perfect platform for this comedy duo. And no, the atrocious 17% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes won’t stop this sequel, just like the 18% fresh didn’t stop the original from becoming a hit.

People who purchase tickets to flicks like “Ride Along 2” (Or “Mall Cop 2” or “Wild Hogs”) don’t go to see them for their contributions to film history; they go to be mind-numbingly entertained for ninety minutes. The same reason you hang out with friends who say stupid stuff and act ridiculous…it’s pretty entertaining. That’s the straight, no chaser.

In 2,900+ theaters expect close to $40M again, which will match its budget and then some with the extended holiday, and, most importantly, assure us all of “Ride Along 3” in January of 2018. Because if it ain’t a trilogy, it just ain’t worth it these days.

Michael Bay likes to blow things up. This we know. With Paramount’s “13 Hours,” at least he tries to make things go boom that aren’t Transformers. While his return to that multi-billion dollar franchise is imminent, he attempts some real-life drama with the R-rated $50M production based on the Benghazi attacks of Sept. 11, 2012.

Bay has only stepped outside “Transformers” one other time this past decade, with “Pain and Gain” in 2013. That film was modestly budgeted at $25M, and went on to gross $86M worldwide. Moderately successful, for sure, something “13 Hours” will also strive for.

While “13 Hours” opens in just 2,300+ theaters, it still should debut with $20M+ over the extended weekend. Jingoistic, true-life war flicks like “American Sniper,” “Act of Valor,” “Lone Survivor,” “Black Hawk Down,” and “Zero Dark Thirty” have all served the box office well in January, and this should continue that trend, although there will be a lot of friendly fire as “The Revenant,” “The Force Awakens,” and “Ride Along 2” will all hit over $20M+, as well.

And for the kiddos this weekend: Lionsgate’s “Norm of the North.” Rob Schneider leads the cast. Wait. That’s all you had to say: $12M tops.  Still, with Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” fading out faster than expected, this may surprise, as films like “The Nut Job,” from animation outsider, Open Road Films, debuted with a surprisingly robust $18M two years ago.

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Weekend Estimates:

  1. Ride Along 2 – $38M
  2. The Revenant – $25M
  3. 13 Hours – $22M
  4. The Force Awakens – $21M
  5. Norm of the North – $11M

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Hulu’s “11.22.63” (Feb. 15, 2016)

Hulu is getting into the Netflix business. Well, it’s always been in the same business, but now it has an 8-part series based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel that’s on par with the best of what streaming services are offering. Do you see the future, folks? I sure do.

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PRIME RED-BAND CUT OF THE WEEK: Fox’s “Deadpool” (Feb. 12, 2016)

This just keeps looking better and better. Finally a superhero movie with some real bite to it. This is what made reading comics back in the day so cool…the fact that you felt like you were getting away with something.

Might be the best anti-Valentine film of all-time. Last year we had “Fifty Shades of Grey,” this year we get “Deadpool.” I really dig how the universe balances itself out.

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Poster Image Courtesy of Universal Studios; Poster Design by LA

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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.