According to Variety.com, Universal Studios has started pre-production on a sequel to its hit buddy comedy Ride Along, with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart on board to reprise their starring roles. Ride Along has topped $117 million in U.S. box office after five weekends, starting its run with three consecutive first-place finishes. The film was budgeted at a cost-effective $25 million.
Will Packer, Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez and Larry Brezner will again produce. Tim Story is attached to direct again from a script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. Universal signed the writers to script the sequel last year. The decision to greenlight Ride Along 2 comes on the heels of the healthy opening of another Hart comedy, Sony’s About Last Night, which took in $27.8 million over the four-day weekend.
Kevin Hart more than lived up to his name on Valentine’s day as Sony-Screen Gems’ About Last Night led the charge among couples. And yet, the comedian-turned-leading man, who stands at just 5’2″ tall, has been quietly building his brand, which has only just blown up at the box office, in order to become one of the most biggest African American stars since Will Smith or Denzel Washington. Prior to this year, Hart was known more in the stand-up world, with Codeblack-produced and distributed (along with Summit) hits like Laugh at My Pain and Let Me Explain, both of which were preceded by the eponymous Kevin Hart.
In less than two months, Hart has become one of the industry’s sturdiest B.O. players with two major narrative feature hits: Universal’s Ride Along, which became this year’s first $100 million-plus grosser and now “About Last Night,” which topped Friday’s box office with $12.9 million, kick-starting a solid $28.5 million four-day run.
Earlier in his career, Hart had memorable supporting roles in such films as The Five-Year Engagement and Think Like a Man. Hart’s seemingly overnight hit status also is due, in part, to the recent success of urban-targeted films in general, including The Best Man Holiday and 12 Years a Slave, both of which were released late last year.
Still, neither of those films broke out the way Ride Along has when it scored a rare three straight wins atop the domestic box office. And while African American-themed films typically do not travel well outside the U.S. (aside from Will Smith — formerly, at least), they are made for a price. About Last Night, for instance, cost only $12.5 million to produce, while Ride Along was budgeted at $25 million. During opening weekend, Ride Along scored 30% of its gross from Hispanics, with Caucasians contributing 12% of the opening. African Americans still delivered half of the box office, though since then the film’s staying power is attributed to a broadened demo base. About Last Night, on the other hand, earned an overwhelming 72% of its opening from African Americans.
Regardless, it’s a steady beat for Hart. Sony is further investing in multi-hyphenate by his upcoming comedy The Wedding Ringer to Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in 2015.
Benefitting from its strong date night appeal and Kevin Hart‘s current filmic hot streak, About Last Nightopened strong on Valentine’s Day and wound up ahead of fellow 1980s remakes RoboCop and Endless Love this weekend, succumbing only to The LEGO Movie, which easily led the box office over President’s Day weekend.
According to boxofficemojo.com, in its second outing, The LEGO Movie added $48.8 million and so far has earned $129.1 million. Playing at 2,253 locations, About Last Night opened to an estimated $27 million. That’s the best opening for a romantic comedy since 2012’s Think Like a Man ($33.6 million), which also featured Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy and Regina Hall. It is noticeably lower than recent Kevin Hart movie Ride Along ($41.5 million), though that’s a difficult number to match.
According to Sony, About Last Night‘s audience was 63 percent female and 57 percent over the age of 30. They awarded the movie a solid “A-” CinemaScore. Remaining a master builder in its second weekend, The Lego Movie ended Valentine’s Day in a tie with new entry About Last Night, but is expected to zoom ahead on Saturday for a possible $59 million-plus finish over the long Presidents Day weekend. About Last Night took in $13 million on Friday for a projected four-day opening in the $35 million range.
Kevin Hart‘s new stand-up comedy film Let Me Explain has been a surprise smash at the box office and could potentially become the most successful film of its kind ever. Hart, who has been on a winning streak following his hit film Think Like a Man and popular BET series Real Husbands of Hollywood, already has one very successful stand up film under his belt; 2011′s Laugh at My Pain.
The movie achieved this feat while opening in 876 theaters. In comparison, Disney’s The Lone Ranger (starring Johnny Depp) opened in 3,904 theaters and yet only grossed $5 million more than Hart’s low-budget comedy.