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Two years ago the mismatched buddy cop comedy Ride Along starring comedian Kevin Hart and tough guy Ice Cube surprised a lot of people by earning $154 million at the box office ($135 million of that domestically). Not bad for a movie that reportedly cost $25 million. With that level of profitability, a sequel was almost inevitable. Ride Along 2 cruises into theaters this weekend, and is already poised to have a huge debut.
Universal has to be pleased with the early results for Ride Along 2, as, according to Deadline, it is already on pace to take in between $48 and $50 million over the course of the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. The second movie was, admittedly, a bit more expensive, but with a price tag hovering around the $40 million neighborhood, that’s a hell of a way to kick off a theatrical run.
Ride Along 2 got a solid jump start on the weekend at early shows last night, where it took in $1.26 million on just over 2300 screens, a step up from the $1.06 million of its predecessor, which took in $41.5 million during its initial run, also over the MLK holiday. It also took in substantially more than the other big new movie opening this weekend, Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which banked about $900,000 on approximately 2000 screens on Thursday.
And all of this early success for Ride Along 2 comes amidst rough critical reviews that knock the movie as a rehash of the first, and ding it for generally being less fun and having less heart. Right now it sits at a less-than-stellar 15% rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Though that’s not always an indicator of how well a movie will do, it could mean that Ride Along 2 won’t have the longest legs in the world. Then again, it already has an audience, one that has only grown since the first, and they appear to be turning out to see more Ice Cube and Kevin Hart shenanigans.
Overall, this is shaping up to be an interesting weekend at the box office, especially as this will be the first not won by Star Wars: The Force Awakens since it was released in December. It had to happen sooner or later, so it might as well be now. The Force Awakens likely won’t even finish in second place, as The Revenant, which almost took it down last week, aided by a number of Oscar nominations, is projected to bring in $32-34 million. But don’t feel too bad for J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm, as Star Wars will still earn an estimated $28-$31 million, which should be good for third place ahead of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which will likely land around $23 million for its opening frame.
What are you going to see this weekend? Is Ride Along 2 on your schedule, or are you going to check out 13 Hours?