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'Ride Along' tops box office

 

Ben Livesey and Linda Sandler
(c) 2014, Bloomberg News.
"Ride Along," the buddy comedy with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, topped domestic theaters in the first three days of the holiday weekend with $41.2 million, giving Universal Pictures its second straight No. 1 release.

"Lone Survivor," a military drama also released by Comcast-owned Universal, fell to second place with $23.2 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, Rentrak said in an emailed statement on Sunday. "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" generated $17.2 million in its debut for Viacom's Paramount Pictures in fourth place.

"Ride Along" features Hart as a security guard who tries to impress his prospective brother-in-law. Universal, which ranked third among studios last year, is benefiting from comedian Hart's growing popularity, said Phil Contrino, chief analyst for researcher BoxOffice.com. "Lone Survivor," an action drama based on true events of Navy SEAL commandos, gives the studio a contrasting choice to offer audiences over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

"Hart is very rapidly become an 'A' list star," said Phil Contrino, chief analyst for researcher BoxOffice.com. "Both movies speak to the power of diversifying."

The movie beat a forecast of $34 million from BoxOffice.com and contributed to a 29 percent jump in the weekend take ($180 million) for all films compared to a year ago, Rentrak said.

In "Ride Along," Hart's character agrees to join his girlfriend's brother, an Atlanta cop played by Ice Cube, on a 24-hour patrol to prove he's worthy of marrying his sister and joining the force. The movie got a 17 percent positive rating on RottenTomatoes, a review aggregator.

"The plot isn't much, but Mr. Hart's fans, at least, are well served by the way his manic energy bounces off Ice Cube's growly stoicism," wrote Neil Genzlinger in The New York Times.

"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" starring Chris Pine, is a reboot of the Paramount franchise about the CIA operative, based on the Tom Clancy novels. Pine takes over in the title role from Ben Affleck, who was featured in 2002's "The Sum of All Fears."

The movie, which also features Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley, got a 63 percent positive rating on RottenTomatoes, a review aggregator. It was projected to collect $22 million.

"The Nut Job," an animated film about a cantankerous squirrel called Surly who's banished from his park and forced to survive in the city, collected $20.6 million in its debut for Open Road Films, placing third. It got a 13 percent rating on RottenTomatoes and was forecast to have $11.4 million in receipts.

The horror movie "Devil's Due," the fourth debut in wide release this weekend, collected $8.5 million for Twentieth Century Fox to place seventh. The film follows a newlywed couple who find themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy after a lost night on their honeymoon.

Among returning films, "Frozen," the animation about two estranged princesses in an icy world, placed fifth with $12 million for Walt Disney.

Oscar-nominated movies "12 Years a Slave," about a free black man sold into slavery, and "August: Osage County," following a family that reunites after the death of the matriarch's husband, expanded in wide release this weekend.

"12 Years a Slave" collected $1.52 million for 21st Century Fox, bringing its total to $40.6 million. "August: Osage County," which garnered nominations for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, collected $7.6 million for Weinstein Co.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films rose 42 percent to $152.5 from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Domestic box- office sales total $644.3 million, up 9 percent from a year earlier.

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With assistance from Dan Hart

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