Ride Along Smashes Records

    Ride Along, the comedy starring Ice Cube and comedian Kevin Hart, nabbed the weekend’s top spot at the box office becoming the best performing film of not only MLK weekend, but of January.

    The Will Packer produced buddy cop film from Universal Pictures debuted at $48.8 million according to box office estimates, surpassing the prior record held by Cloverfield (2008), which sold over $41 million in tickets during its MLK weekend opening, making it the biggest January opening of all time. But then Ride Along smashed that old record to pieces.

    Comedian Kevin Hart is certainly in season these days. As Ride Along solidifies his status as a big time box office draw, his shared top-billing with an established commodity like Ice Cube likely certifies a sequel. Though Hart has appeared in Think Like a Man, This is the End and the recently released Grudge Match, Ride Along is being called Hart’s first starring role in a feature film.

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    "He's everywhere it seems," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. "I know he was co-starring with Ice Cube in Ride Along, but this really was marketed as a Kevin Hart movie. There's no question he's a movie star now who doesn't require any qualifications before his name."

    With the success of Ride Along, Ice Cube reminded studios that he is still a big time box office draw, as well. The monetary success of the buddy cop film places Cube in a rare category.  The combined gate receipts for Cube films including the franchises of Friday, Barbershop, Are We There Yet, and his debut in John Singleton's Boyz in the Hood, have surpassed $1 billion.

    Other standouts from the weekend include Lone Survivor, starring another hip hop head, Mark Wahlberg, which landed in second place with $37 million. While Paramount’s spy thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, starring Chris Pine, is in fourth place with a disappointing $17.2 million. Kids’ animated film The Nut Job finished with $20.6 million, which was good enough for third place.

    The last time a film with an African American lead had a massive opening during MLK weekend was The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington with $32 million in 2010. That total was preceded by Big Mama’s House 2, starring Martin Lawrence, with $27 million in 2006.