Ride Along still rolling at No. 1

Posted: January 31, 2014 at 1:52 a.m.

Katherine Heigl and Will Arnett provide the voices for Andie and Surly in The Nut Job. It came in third at last weekend’s box office and made more than $12 million.

Ride Along, the buddy comedy with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, placed first in U.S. and Canadian theaters for a second weekend, collecting about $21.3 million for Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures.

I, Frankenstein, a revisiting of Mary Shelley’s classic monster story, flopped. It took in $8.6 million to place sixth for Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. in the only wide-release debut last weekend, Rentrak Corp. said. The film, starring Aaron Eckhart, had a production budget of $65 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

Receipts of Ride Along, together with those of the military drama Lone Survivor, have lifted Universal to No. 1 in domestic sales so far in 2014. The popularity of both films has been aided by the appeal of their leading actors - comedian Hart in Ride Along and Mark Wahlberg in Lone Survivor, a film about Navy SEAL commandos.

In Ride Along, Hart’s character, a security guard, agrees to join his girlfriend’s brother, an Atlanta police officer played by Ice Cube, on a 24-hour patrol to prove he’s worthy of marrying the officer’s sister and joining the force. The film got a 73 percent audience approval rating, according to aggregator site RottenTomatoes.com.

I, Frankenstein is based on the novel by Kevin Grevioux. Eckhart plays Adam Frankenstein, who finds himself in the middle of a war between two immortal clans. It also features Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto and Grevioux. Stuart Beattie, a writer on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, wrote and directed.

The movie was projected to reap $15.3 million in sales and got a 5 percent positive rating in reviews compiled by RottenTomatoes.com.

Among returning films,Lone Survivor, about a failed U.S. mission to track down an al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan, generated close to $13 million for Universal to place second in its fifth week. It has collected almost $94 million in domestic ticket sales.

With $152 million as of Jan. 23, Universal has commanded a 21 percent share of the U.S. and Canadian box office this year, according to Box Office Mojo. Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures was second with 20 percent.

The Nut Job, an animated picture from Open Road Films, placed third with $12 million in its second weekend, according to Rentrak. About a cantankerous squirrel called Surly who’s banished from his park and forced to survive in the city, the movie has generated $40 million to date in domestic theaters.

Frozen, the animated feature from Walt Disney Co., placed fourth with $9 million. The movie has collected close to $348 million domestically, according to Box Office Mojo.

In its second weekend, Paramount Pictures’ Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit grossed $9 million, bringing the domestic take to more than $30 million for a Tom Clancy character reboot that cost $60 million to produce.

Oscar contenders held strong. The gross for American Hustle, nominated for 10 Academy Awards, fell just 28 percent from the weekend before, to $7 million, and The Weinstein Co.’s August: Osage County took in $5 million, down 32 percent. The Wolf of Wall Street secured close to $5.5 million, bringing its domestic take near the $100 million mark.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films rose 13 percent, to $92.1 million from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Domestic box-office sales year to date are $824.9 million, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

MovieStyle, Pages 34 on 01/31/2014