Weekend B.O. Jan. 15-18 (Definitely Not Your Typical School Play)
Photo Credit: S & A
Box Office

Weekend B.O. Jan. 15-18 (Definitely Not Your Typical School Play)


It was inevitable that on some weekend "Stars Wars: The Force Awakens" would eventually be overtaken by another film for the No.1 box office weekend slot; but who out there guessed that film would be the Kevin Hart/Ice Cube sequel "Ride Along 2"? I sure didn’t see that coming. Maybe J.J. Abrams should seriously consider have Hart and Cube in the next "Star Wars" film. 

The sequel pulled in some $34 million Fri-Sun (plus another $3 million foreign) this extended MLK holiday weekend, adding another $5.5-6 million on Sunday for a total around $40 million. That’s an amazing sum for the sequel considering that it was not expected to do as well as the first "Ride Along" film which came out of nowhere to make $41.5 million in its opening weekend, with an eventual total of $134 million domestic. 

The main question is why? What’s the deal with this film that makes it so popular? The premise is definitely not original and the films are certainly no masterpieces with "Ride Along 2" especially getting bad reviews, some calling it lazy and contrived. The basic concept of the film is to put Hart in an embarrassing or dangerous, life threatening situation and then have him bluster, con and jive talk his way out of it, and somehow construct an a entire film around that. Admittedly both films have their moments, but they’re no comedy classics for the ages, not by a long shot.

I suspect the real appeal of the film is that, not only do people find them just simply entertaining, but they’re also black films without an agenda. By that I mean the "Ride Along" movies are black films that audiences (both black and white) can see and never once have to be worried that it will deal with "issues". Or, like as someone once said to me, that going to see a black film is too many times like going to see your child in the school play. In other words, you don’t want to go, it’s going to be bad and/or painful to watch, but you go anyway out of guilt, and the belief that you have to support your child.

Well "Ride Along" is certainly no school play. No worries that the film will tackle racism or oppression (political or economic). No mention of poverty, no slavery, and just none of the usual issues you see in many black films. Just entertainment for entertainment’s sake. And when you think about it, very few black films are "issue" free. Even when Tyler Perry was at the top of his filmmaking career, every film of his dealt with those deeded "issues." 

With "Ride Along" you can put your brain in "Park" and relax and enjoy the break from real life. "Creed" ($107 million domestic, $29 million foreign) which is a much better made film in every aspect to "Ride Along," is along the same idea, which is why I suspect it has resonated with a lot of  black filmgoers who are even giving "Creed" repeat business.. 

It’s a film that takes the basic elements about a young black man trying to find his identity after a life of hurt and confusion, along with a sweet love story. No angst, no misery. No heavy-handed struggles about a young black man with a target on his back in today’s harsh, uncaring society that you’re always reading about or experiencing yourself. It is implied though, but not made explicit.

What do you say?

In second place "The Revenant" stayed very strong from last weekend, for a total Fri-Sun of $29 million and another $6 million for Sunday, for a total of $35 million this weekend, and $93 million domestically. Seems that the film, which went way over schedule and over budget due to the extreme difficulties in making the filmit, may pay off for all the backers involved. And the film has already opened in 50 foreign territories in Europe, Australia, the Middle East and the Ukraine for a total of $65 million to date.

"Force Awakens" of course is still making money though, and has already crossed the billion dollar mark. However "13 Hours" – Michael Bay’s Hollywood retelling of the attack on and defense of the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya – under-performed with $19 million. Considering how well other recent "Go USA!!" pro-military, "killing of brown-skinned people" war films have done – such as "American Sniper" and "Lone Survivor" – $19 million is about half of what the film was expected to make. Perhaps potential filmgoers were put off by the extreme politicizing of the film by other conservatives.

And this was after a huge premiere at the Dallas Cowboys stadium with some 30,000 people in attendance to watch the film. Conservatives who were salivating over the pre-conceived notion that the film could detail Hillary Clinton’s campaign are now bummed out that it won’t. But what is not-so surprising is the fact that, of the $19 million, half of it come from theaters in the South, where the film outperformed other moves by 25%. Still, that wasn’t enough to beat the first three films on this week’s box office weekend list.

Finally Quentin Tarantino’s "The Hateful 8" looks like it’s running out of gas. Though the film has at least made back its production cost, it’s not going to make the kind of money that was hoped for. However, as expected, the overseas numbers where it has opened in some 18 countries so far, for a total to date of nearly $19 million, will help the film make a profit for Weinstein Co.

1) Ride Along 2 Uni. $34,040,000
2) The Revenant Fox $29,500,000 Total: $87,674,769
3) Star Wars: The Force Awakens BV $25,120,000 Total:  $851,052,841
4) 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Par. $16,000,000
5) Daddy’s Home Par. $9,300,000 Total:  $129,256,102
6) Norm of the North LGF $6,675,000
7) The Forest Focus $5,792,000 Total: $21,125,634
8) Sisters Uni. $4,420,000 Total: $81,853,630
10 ) The Hateful Eight Wein. $3,447,000 Total: $47,595,491
11) Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip Fox $2,900,000  Total: $79,613,025
12) Joy Fox $2,875, 999  Total: $51, 325,3 268

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