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New in Theaters January 15: Ride Along 2, 13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Norm of the North

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By Chris Kavan - 01/14/16 at 06:37 AM CT

It has been a good run for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (what am I saying, it has been the best run) but this should finally be the weekend it loses its top spot to another challenger. The most likely new winner should be a comedic sequel to a well-received original, but don't count out Michael Bay's attempt to direct a more serious film. There is also a new animated film on the block, though I don't see this one making that much of an impact. All told, there is going to be a shake up at the box office and it will be interesting to see how everything turns out.

RIDE ALONG 2 Back in 2014, Kevin Hart was exploding - the comedian was coming off a very successful comedy/documentary Let Me Explain and in 2014 he had three huge films - Think Like a Man Too, About Last Night and Ride Along. The first Ride Along made nearly $135 million on a $25 million budget. The sequel once again has Hart teaming up with Ice Cube - this time taking a road trip to Miami (of course, just before the big wedding) in order to take down a drug ring supplying Atlanta. Ken Jeong, Olivia Munn and Benjamin Bratt join the cast with Tika Sumpter and Bruce McGill reprising their respective roles. With the flashy new locale, the budget for this one also increased - to $40 million - but that is still a pretty moderate budget and I have no doubt Ride Along 2 will be able to top that, possibly on opening weekend alone. While I have yet to see the original, Hart is still a big draw and the previews do look pretty funny. This should take the weekend away from Star Wars, we'll see how good it gets.


13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI We all know Michael Bay - this is the guy who is known for explosions and action -- Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Armageddon, The Rock - you usually know what you're in for when Bay's name is attached. However, The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi looks to be a bit more serious (well, for Bay anyway). Yes, there is still action (and probably explosions) but the story is based on a real event - and one that is still pretty fresh in the memory. This is more along the lines of a Lone Survivor type story rather than an over-the-top CG movie. Now the question is whether audiences are going to back this. The cast looks solid: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa and Max Martini lead the cast. Now, none of these names are what I would call huge stars - but that isn't necessary for a film to find success. The film is going to rise or fall dependent on if can capture both Bay's typical action audience and the more patriotic crowd that supported Lone Survivor and American Sniper. This might be the biggest question mark of the weekend as it could turn up very good or fall flat.


NORM OF THE NORTH That leaves us with Norm of the North, an animated film that I have heard pretty much nothing about. When you don't have a good marketing push it typically means there isn't a lot of faith behind the film. In fact, according to the trivia, this was meant to be a straight-to-DVD film before deciding to go the theatrical route. I have a feeling this one is not going to find a very receptive audience - and the fact that Rob Schneider is the main voice? I'm not sold. Granted, the supporting cast looks decent - Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Bill Nighy, Colm Meaney and Loretta Devine all provide distinct talent to their roles. The film itself, dealing with a polar bear displaced form his home and becoming the face of a huge corporation - has shades of climate change written all over it. While I have no issues with that, I suspect certain people (cough conservatives cough) might be turned off by the plot. I just am not getting the greatest vibes from this and I expect it to have only moderate success even with it being the only obvious family choice right now.


It is going to be a good weekend for change. Ride Along 2 will most likely be the new box office champion, though it will still be interesting to see how Star Wars holds up to the rest of the pack. I'll be back on Sunday with the final results.

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