Two very different buddy comedies vied for the No. 1 spot at the box office over the weekend.
Ice Cube and Kevin Hart's tough-talking cop romp "Ride Along" outgunned former Disney-bred teen idol Zac Efron's "That Awkward Moment" to emerge victorious with an estimated $12.3 million.
Disney's seemingly unstoppable animated family film "Frozen" staged a sneak attack by adding sing-along shows in more than 1,000 theaters, and snagged the No. 2 spot with $9.3 million.
Focus Features' "That Awkward Moment," came in at No. 3 with $9 million after generating early predictions that it would likely steal the No. 1 spot from Universal's "Ride Along," now entering it's third consecutive week of domination.
"Frozen" has performed exceedingly well since it's Thanksgiving weekend wide release. Domestically it has earned a mammoth $360 million and is currently the highest-grossing original (non-sequel) animated feature of all time.
According to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys, "That Awkward Moment" was predicted to take in from $10 million to $12 million. Although it underperformed, it's final tally could be seen as a notable achievement for the small film since Focus Features CEO Peter Schlessel spent only $1.5 million to acquire the rights for the movie, which was written and directed by first-timer Tom Gormican.
The film cost only $8 million to make compared with "Ride Along"s (still-modest) $25-million budget, although "Ride Along" had a stellar start, earning $41.5 million during it's opening on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. It has collected more than $92 million domestically.
"That Awkward Moment" is about a trio of young men who discover that hooking up could mean falling in love. It was expected to received a significant boost against "Ride Along" since it was marketed to females between the ages of 17 and 34. A smart call on Super Bowl weekend when more men than women will likely be glued to the small screen as the Seattle Seahawks face down the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon.
Exit polls show that the audience was indeed 64% female, with 61% under the age of 25.
Small victories aside, neither film has fared well in the critical reception category. Universal's "Ride Along" scored a wince-inducing 17% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with "That Awkward Moment" a still-sorry 22%.
There's a pretty strong disconnect between critics and audiences on this matter, however, with "Ride Along" earning a grade of A from CinemaScore, a company that polls moviegoers on opening night. "That Awkward" moment received a B.
The weekend's only other wide release was Paramount's "Labor Day," directed by Jason Reitman and starring Kate Winslet as a reclusive mother who lets an escaped convict, played by Josh Brolin, into her home.
That film, which is adapted from a 2009 novel by Joyce Maynard and cost $18 million to make, earned a disappointing $5.3 million. The film has suffered from mixed reviews, with a 32% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a B-minus CinemaScore.
Reitman isn't used to taking critical beatings, having made well-received favorites including "Up in the Air," "Juno" and "Thank You for Smoking."
Also, making appearances in the weekend top 10 were Open Road's animated comedy "The Nut Job," which took fourth place with $7.6 million; Universal's tale of the war in Afghanistan, "Lone Survivor," which stars Mark Wahlberg (No. 5, $7.2 million); and Paramount's "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," (No. 6, $5.4 million).
In the Oscar-contender category, the highly praised "American Hustle" hung in at No. 8 with $4.3 million just a few weeks after it took the Screen Actors Guild Award for best cast, a good indicator that the David O. Russell film is a strong frontrunner to take the best picture trophy in early March.
Martin Scorcese's racy "The Wolf of Wall Street" came in right behind it with $3.6 million.