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Star Wars: The Force Awakens has ruled the box office roost every weekend since its release, but as any film on a hot streak will tell you – that streak can end thanks to the most unlikely of opponents. For every Titanic there's a Lost In Space, and for every Avatar there is a Dear John. So who's looking to be the usurper to the Star Wars throne? None other than Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.
Projections for Ride Along 2's opening weekend have pegged the film between the studio mandated $30 million estimate and Variety's $40 million figure. Either model falls short of Ride Along's $48.6 million take back in 2014, but if the numbers for J.J Abrams' sci-fi epic continue the pattern they've fallen into, this could be enough to win the day.
A lot of folks thought last weekend's release of The Revenant could topple Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as the film steamed towards its eventual $39.8 million frame. While that is a most respectable showing for a January picture of prestige, it wasn't enough to leap over the $42.3 million the seventh Star Wars film managed to grab in its fourth weekend of distribution. With pretty much everyone and their cousin having seen the film at least once, maybe twice, in theaters, the steam in the engine that was once fated to top Avatar is starting to run out.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens enduring a roughly 40% drop in each of the past two weekends, this past weekend saw the film fall an additional 53% in monetary gain. Even if the film maintained its current rate of loss, that would leave its fifth weekend total at $21.1 million - with Ride Along 2 taking the crown handily, no matter which estimate you listen to. Now there are a couple of factors to keep in mind, such as the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend possibly leading to a surge of repeat viewings through fans that want to see the film top James Cameron's twin box office behemoths. Or, in another scenario, The Relevant could see a Golden Globes bump sustaining last weekend's box office jump – planting it in the same $30 - $40 million real estate Ride Along 2 is staking out.
For now, smart money is on Ride Along 2 becoming the king of the castle, but if there's anything Hollywood has proven it's this: smart money isn't always as sure as it sounds. If the buddy cop sequel can fall behind its predecessor's opening weekend in the estimates, that possibly says the audiences are losing their taste for the shenanigans of Kevin Hart and Ice Cube. We'll see which side of the argument wins out when Ride Along 2 opens in theaters Friday.