Kevin Hart continued his streak of box office magic as his new buddy cop comedy “Ride Along” (with Ice Cube and Tika Sumpter) was the #1 movie in the country, banking $48.1 million this past weekend. “Ride Along” had a predicted $34 million opening, but box office pundits are realizing that Hart isn’t just a flash in the pan talent. “Hart is rapidly becoming an A-List star” Phil Contrino, chief analyst for BoxOffice.com told Bloomberg News.
Meanwhile Paramount’s “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” came in fourth, with a disappointing opening gross of only $18 million. In an article titled “Jack Ryan Franchise Potential Killed By Young Audiences?, author Gabe Toro makes the conclusion that “Shadow Recruit” just didn’t appeal to younger moviegoers:
“63% of the audience for the film was over 35, a large faction of older filmgoers that usually don’t venture out on opening weekend. Moreover, more than a third of those that took in Shadow Recruit this weekend were over fifty. As far as those fickle teens, only 15% of the crowd was made up of audience members under the age of 25….”
Scott Mendelson, a film writer and critic for Forbes broke down the audience demographics lending to “Ride Along” box office success: The film played 57% female, 54% over 25, 50% African-American, 30% Hispanic, and 12% Caucasian.
What is interesting is that even though “Ride Along” clearly appealed to several demographics, it is still boxed in as just an urban or “Black” movie, while “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” much narrower fan base can still enjoy the benefits of being a “mainstream” (read: White) movie. With the exception of Will Smith and Denzel Washington projects, it is rare to find a movie with a lead or cast of color labeled as “mainstream.” You didn’t forget USA Today’s ridiculous labeling of “Best Man Holiday” as a “race-themed” movie, did you?
Mendelson also pointed out Hollywood’s lack of interest in grooming the next generation of black actors and actresses when he tweeted: “Weekend B.O. (RIDE ALONG/JACK RYAN) explains why so few new movie stars. Spent 10yrs looking for next Tom Cruise instead of next Will Smith.”
As evidenced by the success of the “Fast And Furious” franchise, moviegoers are hungry for a more realistic depiction of the world they live in and yes, they do want to see themselves reflected on the big screen. Let’s hope Hollywood gets the message and realize that the American landscape is changing, and they should keep pace.
ReBecca Theodore-Vachon is a Film/TV columnist for The Urban Daily and contributor to RogerEbert.com – you can find her on Twitter: @FilmFatale_NYC
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