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Weekend Box Office: Ride Along Sets Record, The Nut Job Opens Hot, Jack Ryan Does Not

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By Chris Kavan - 01/20/14 at 12:01 AM CT

While the year is still young, that doesn't mean records can't fall. Thanks to the strong arrival of some new films, as well as the continued strength of some decent holdovers, 2014 is getting off to an excellent start. Considering how slow last year was out of the block, this just might mean that the records set last year could easily fall and 2014 might wind up as the new highest-grossing year on record. But I'm getting ahead of myself - let's see what this week has brought us first.

1) RIDE ALONG

For anyone who thought that Kevin Hart wouldn't be able to translate his standup success to the big screen, RIde Along should pretty much silence any of those critics. The film set a new January record by opening with $41.2 million - topping the previous record Cloverfield set at $40.1 million. It was also a hit with audiences, garnering a solid "A" Cinemescore. The audience was slightly more female (57%) and older (54% over 25). It was also 50% African American while Hispanics also contributed 30% to the overall numbers. More importantly, Ride Along doesn't face any direct competition in the coming weeks, meaning the film is pretty much guaranteed to cross the $100 million mark - and on just a $25 million budget, that's a very good thing. I expect word-of-mouth to be strong on this one - and kudos to the marketing team for finally giving us a comedy that lives up to its potential.

2) LONE SURVIVOR

The military drama had a strong second weekend, as it dropped a light 39%. The film brought in another $23.24 million, giving it a new total of $74.05 million. This is one where audience reaction (the good kind) gave it a distinct advantage going into its second weekend. The response has been excellent and the film should cross $100 by next weekend (or the possibly the week after) - either way, on just a $40 million budget, this one is a certified hit.

3) THE NUT JOB

Ride Along wasn't the only film to open stronger than expected over the weekend. The Nut Job turned in a $20.55 million opening performance - and it also gave Open Road Films their biggest opening on record. Families were obviously waiting for the next big thing - even though Frozen has proven to be a big hit. Given that the next animated film to drop won't be until The Lego Movie hits in February - The Nut Job has a great chance of also being the highest-grossing film for Open Road, as it should be able to reach the $60 million mark. I wasn't that impressed with the marketing myself - but it just goes to show that the family audience is a strong one to court and you can discount the draw of animation. Audiences did only award it a "B" Cinemascore (on the low end for animated features), but it should play well at least for the next few weeks.

4) JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT

I was sure Jack Ryan was going to be the movie to beat over the weekend, but it turns out it was the biggest disappointment. Opening at just $17.2 million, the film isn't likely to spawn another series - Chris Pine will just have to settle for Star Trek, I'm afraid, for his franchise fix. Audiences also only gave this a "B" Cinemascore as well - so it won't be able to capitalize on much word-of-mouth to save its hopes. In fact, it is likely to fall short of its $60 million budget - at least domestically - but it should be able to recoup in the international markets. Still, I was kind of hoping for another super spy to take hold - oh well, as long as James Bond continues to deliver, I guess I can't complain too much.

5) FROZEN

Even with direct competition from The Nut Job, Frozen held up remarkably well, dropping just 19%. The film brought in an additional $11.97 million, giving it a new total of $332.6 million. As it stands, Frozen has a good chance of topping Despicable Me 2 (currently at $368 million) to become the highest-grossing animated film of 2013 - and also moving it into the top 3 for the previous year.

Outside the top five: The other new wide release film of the week, Devil's Due, proved horrific for all the wrong reasons. Opening to just $8.5 million (7th Place). Granted, the film cost just $7 million to make, but with the weak opening of Paranormal Activity maybe, just maybe, we can put a nail in the coffin of the so-called found footage genre and get back to more traditional horror (ala The Conjuring). Just a thought.

American Hustle was the clear winner in the awards-season bump category. Although it lost 425 theaters compared to last weekend, its total grosses were actually up 27.7% The David O. Russell film brought in $10.6 million (6th place) to give it a new total of $116.3 million and with plenty of awards most likely to come - a total of $150 million isn't out of the question at this point.

The other film to gain a noticeable increase over the weekend was August: Osage County. The comedy/drama was in 8th place with $7.95 million (an increase of 6.1% over last weekend) giving it a new total of $18.18 million. Unlike American Hustle, however, it actually added over 1100 theaters to its count, so the increase isn't nearly as impressive given the shift.

Next week the only new film in wide release will the action film I, Frankenstein (which, the more times I see it advertised, the worse it looks) and I can't see this one having a major impact at the box office - it will probably fall in line with the recent Hercules film. So expect the box office to look much the same next weekend when we'll see which new films have staying power.

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