The $25-million "Ride Along," from Universal Pictures, marks the first leading role for comedian Hart, who plays a video game-obsessed security guard trying to impress his girlfriend's brother, a rule-bending Atlanta detective played by Cube.
The new movie could gross $38 million to $40 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada through Monday, likely making it the No. 1 film over the four-day
Universal is projecting a more conservative, but still strong, $30 million. That would put "Ride Along" on par with the studio's two most recent Martin Luther King Day weekend debuts, last year's "Mama" and 2012's
"Ride Along" is the latest movie from director
Hart displayed his considerable draw with the stand-up comedy concert film "Let Me Explain," which grossed more than $32 million this summer, a strong result for the genre. "Ride Along" should do especially well with African American moviegoers, though it is expected to have appeal beyond that demographic.
Universal's "Lone Survivor," which posted a wide opening gross of $37.8 million last weekend, will probably take second place.
Paramount Pictures is releasing "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," which could bring in $18 million from the four-day weekend. Co-financed by Paramount and Skydance, it cost $60 million to make.
It's the first movie with the character of Ryan since 2002's "Sum of All Fears," starring
In "Shadow Recruit," directed by
"The Nut Job," a 3-D animated heist comedy distributed in the U.S. by Open Road Films, could gross about $12 million through Monday. The production from Gulfstream Pictures, Red Rover International and ToonBox Entertainment cost roughly $30 million to make, factoring in tax credits.
Featuring the voices of celebrities including
Also launching this weekend is "Devil's Due,"
The Academy Award nominations Thursday could boost some films currently in wide release, including "American Hustle" and
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