In a weekend crowded with new releases and expansions of the Oscar nominees, along with a Monday holiday, there were plenty of winners and few losers at the box office. The big winner was the Ice Cube/Kevin Hart comedy Ride Along, blew past its $28 million predicted gross for a final of $41 million, the highest opening for an MLK-weekend release ever. There was little in the way of straight comedy competition, with the month-old Anchorman sequel being the only real candidate, and with an A Cinemascore and an audience that skewed 57 percent female (suggesting a date night movie), along with the fact that Kevin Hart is the “it” comedian of the moment, Ride Along had an easy path to the top. It’s already made back its budget, so any precipitous fall-off in coming weeks won’t be that big of a deal.
In third place was the animated comedy The Nut Job, which scored up $20.5 million and finally unseated Frozen as the animated family comedy du jour (Frozen dropped to fifth place with $11 million). The Nut Job had a big opening for a non-major studio animated film, but mediocre reviews will likely keep audiences away in the coming weeks. In fourth place was the Chris Pine-fronted Jack Ryan outing Shadow Recruit, with $17.2 million, which seems low, but it was in line with Paramount’s expectations, the film only cost $60 million to make, and American action films typically do quite well overseas, so it’s likely the film will turn a profit. In seventh place was the token January found-footage demonic possession movie, Devil’s Due, which picked up $8.5 million and already surpassed its $7 million budget, illustrating why we get a token January found-footage demonic possession movie every year.
All of the Oscar-nominated films got bumps from their nominations, with Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club and Captain Phillips adding hundreds of theaters and another $500,000 to $2 million to their respective grosses. The films that were currently in wide release (American Hustle, Her, August: Osage County) got smaller bumps, but all remained in the top 20.