“It’s going to be a fantastic January,” beamed one distribution chief this morning.

Yeah, but compared with last January? When we had American Sniper gunning down $242.2M for the month?

Coming off of the phenomenal success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which currently counts $819.7M, the argument is that there’s more depth this month than a year ago.

jAY
5 months
Ride Along was terrible, and the sequel looks even worse.
NYC Juan
6 months
Universal's gotten nearly 3200 for RA2. That's in line with Compton, so it should be the hands...
6 months
Im not saying it will, but dont sleep on "13th hour" not being number 1 for the...

ride along 2Consider the goods: This weekend we have the sequel to an action-comedy that previously owned the MLK weekend opening title before American Sniper smashed all records (4-day $107.2M). Universal’s Kevin Hart-Ice Cube pic Ride Along 2 is estimated to open with a $50M-plus four-day weekend at 3,175 venues and kick Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens out of No. 1. That would make it the second-highest opening over the MLK four-day stretch. Meanwhile, the highest-grossing film of all time domestically is expected to chalk up a FSSM in the high $30Ms during its fifth go-round.

Other highlights looking to move the B.O. needle later this month include Lionsgate’s Dirty Grandpa, Disney’s The Finest Hours and DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3 via 20th Century Fox. 

The first Ride Along, also released during the MLK holiday in 2014, rang up $48.6M over four days. The sequel carries a reported budget of $40M, which is 60% higher than the first. It’s an action comedy, so older guys are coming, right? Maybe. The first Ride Along drew older women — 57% female audiences and 54% over 25 — off its A CinemaScore. Ethnic breakdown for that film was 50% African-American, 30% Hispanic, and 12% Caucasian. Thursday previews for Ride Along 2 rev up at 7 PM.

Coming in third is 20th Century Fox/New Regency’s The Revenantriding a wave of three Golden Globe wins including best picture, director (Alejandro G. Iñárritu) and actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) as well as 54 Imax locations. Industry estimates lie in the high-$20M range, but it could go higher. To date, the frontier thriller has clocked $50.4M stateside.

13 hoursParamount has Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi at 2,400 locations, which is projected to take in a four-day in the low-$20M range. The film is based on the nonfiction tome by Mitchell Zuckoff and members of the Annex Security Team. Strong play for 13 Hours is expected in the South, Southwest and Midwest regions. Paramount has screened the film extensively at a number of military bases. The premiere in Dallas last night drew 35K.

Lionsgate is making a play for families with Splash Entertainment’s Norm Of The North at 2,411 engagements. The norm of the northdistrib is only on the hook for P&A as Splash has fully financed the pic. Low estimates have Norm Of The North at $5M over FSSM, however, some think it can do lower double digits. The last family title in the marketplace was Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip. There aren’t any Thursday previews for Norm.

In regards to how the Oscar noms will impact business, insiders say that Carol and Room have the most gain if they grab a Best Picture nom tomorrow morning as they’re still in limited release. Most of the films in wide release — read The Revenant, The Hateful Eight and Joy — already have an awareness among mass moviegoers since they’ve been in wide release for some time. Open Road’s Spotlight re-expands on Friday from 368 to 973 theaters.