The feature adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ cowboy romance The Longest Ride pulled in $625K from previews last night at 2,360 locations for a $265 per-theater average. It’s the only wide entry this weekend and will expand to 3,365 theaters. Moviehouses opened their fences to the 20th Century Fox drama at 8 PM Thursday.
That figure beats the preview take for the previous Sparks pic, Relativity’s The Best Of Me, which made $525K in October, followed by a $4.1M Friday and three-day opening of $10M. Best Of Me is the current comp for The Longest Ride, however some sources think it could reach a tad higher with $12M-$13M. Universal’s motor monolith Furious 7 is expected to dominate again this weekend but with an estimated fall of 60% from its $147.19M bow for a sophomore-sesh take of $58.9M. Furious 7 and Longest Ride won’t have the benefit of kids on spring break. Good Friday touted 80% schools off a week ago, while only 8% schools are out today. Furious 7 will have the added extra nitro from its Imax and premium large-format holdovers, which together total 772. Theater count for Furious 7 moves from 4,004 to 4,020.
Longest Ride marks Sparks’ 17th romance novel and follows the love between a bull rider/cowboy and a young college student. Their lives become intertwined with a 90-year-old man, who reflects on his own romance with his late wife — memories that inspire the young couple.
Entertainment social media monitor RelishMix observes that 20th Century Fox has posted 42 YouTube videos on its channel with views totaling 9.2M with author Sparks leading the Twitter charge with 461K. Leading man Scott Eastwood has lassoed 51K Twitter followers to date. Actress Britt Robertson counts 95K fans on Instagram — where she hysterically showed that she ain’t much of a rodeo rider.
Critics seem to adore Sparks feature adaptations about as much as poison ivy, with The Longest Ride earning a 28% rotten score — following the low grades for 2010’s Dear John (29% rotten) and 2004’s The Notebook (52% rotten). However, like raunchy comedies, Sparks sudsers aren’t for the tweed jacket crowd. Like flies to a firelight, female auds gravitate to these pics, with Dear John and The Notebook sweeping up $80M and $81M, respectively. The past three Sparks pics — Best Of Me, Safe Haven and The Lucky One, all earned B+ CinemaScores, while Notebook grabbed an A and Dear John a B.