Buddy cop comedy Ride Along, starring Ice Cube and comedian Kevin Hart, whose documentary Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain was one of the most successful docs of 2013, is poised to cut in front of the other guys and finish first this weekend. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit will likely be Ride’s fiercest competitor, although the spy reboot isn’t expected to put up much of a fight.
Ride Along follows a seasoned cop who tries to scare away his sister’s boyfriend by taking the wannabe policeman on a faux ride-along – which soon turns very and hilariously real. Pundits believe the film’s dual plots involving a romantic relationship and a budding bromance should appeal to audiences of both genders and help the film score big at the box-office. Expectations are hovering about $30 million for the long weekend. Interestingly, if Ride Along does earn the most money, this will be the third consecutive year a Universal film has come out on top over the MLK holiday.
Chris Pine is now the fourth actor to tackle the popular Tom Clancy character Jack Ryan. Alec Baldwin played him once and Harrison Ford played him twice in the ‘90s, while Ben Affleck made the most recent attempt to establish a Jack Ryan franchise with 2002’s The Sum of All Fears. Is Chris Pine finally the guy to make a Bourne-like success of Ryan? Unclear. The film has gotten mixed though not terrible reviews, with many critics adopting an ambivalent attitude: Competent enough, but we’ve seen it before. Shadow Recruit opens in 3,387 theatres to Ride Along’s 2,662, but even with a potentially larger audience base, the movie is only expected to gross somewhere in the high-teens.
2013 saw a number of high returns for horror films, and Devil’s Due may be looking to continue that momentum. Unfortunately, the movie’s found-footage conceit, once a popular device, seems to be wearing thin with viewers. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones also featured spooky video and yet it failed to match the figures of past Paranormal Activity movies, opening to just $18 million, a new franchise low. Devil’s Due doesn’t have a similarly recognizable name, or cast (although fans of TV show “Friday Night Lights” will be excited to see Matt Saracen up on the big screen), in which case, the film will likely clock in between $10 and $15 million.
Animated kids’ comedy The Nut Job is the last new release opening wide this weekend. Comparisons to Disney’s winter behemoth Frozen are inevitable, although the latter continues to hold remarkably strong. The nutty squirrel caper may have novelty on its side, but Frozen has the enduring appeal of Idina Menzel. The princess musical will likely out-earn Job, which isn’t expected to gross more than $20 million or so.
Lastly, several Academy Award nominees are getting their pre-Oscars re-release this weekend, to the delight of those intent on seeing each of the nine Best Picture contenders before the March 2 telecast. Technically, Captain Phillips is already two days into its theatrical return, having opened in 903 theatres on Wednesday. Favorites Gravity and 12 Years a Slave will screen in 944 and 761 locations, respectively.