Weekend Box Office: 'Ride Along' Scores Again; 'That Awkward Moment' a Modest Third

With January in the books, the undisputed king of the box office for the month is "Ride Along," which this weekend enjoyed its third turn as champ. With a strong slate of February films up ahead, though, we should have a new number one relatively soon.

"Ride Along" (Credit: Universal)

Universal (a subsidiary of Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) )

The line

Ride Along

Finish: 1st place / Budget: $25 million / 3-day estimated total: $12.5 million/ Est. total to date: $92.9 million

Lone Survivor

Finish: 5th place/ Budget: $40 million / 3-day estimated total: $7.1 million / Est. total to date: $104.8 million

The analysis

Universal has owned the box office every weekend in January thanks to the tandem of Ride Along and Lone Survivor. This weekend's Super Bowl worked to Universal's advantage in a number of ways, but the most beneficial was that other studios chose not to release any major tentpole pics. As a result Ride Along kept pole position for the third straight time. The buddy cop comedy will add to its cume, giving it a total of nearly $93 million while studio sibling Lone Survivor continued on its powerful run and crossed the $100 million milestone.

The future

Universal's 2014 box office assault will continue into February as the studio will roll out teen romance drama Endless Love and Liam Neeson actioner Non-Stop in the coming weeks. Love will probably end up doing respectable business, but the studio likely isn't expecting to hit the top spot again until the end of the month when Neeson returns to the cineplex. Following that the studio will have some down time before the first of its six summer films hit beginning in May.

Focus Features (a subsidiary of Comcast)

The line

That Awkward Moment

Finish: 3rd place / Budget: $8 million / 3-day estimated total: $9 million

The analysis

Awkward was never expected to be a massive hit, but since it was produced for just $8 million it wasn't a surprise to see it make back its money so quickly. The movie starred three young (and of course attractive) Hollywood actors, which immediately made it appealing to the female demographic. A $9 million opening weekend makes it fairly successful, even though early estimates were at one point projected as high as $13 million. Of course, Focus Features is the specialty film branch of Universal Studio, so the company was essentially battling itself for top position this weekend.

The future

The studio will now gear up for Pompeii, which will release over the long Presidents Day weekend. The action drama set in 79 A.D. stars Game of Thrones' Kit Harrington as a Roman slave turned gladiator who looks to save his love from a corrupt senator, all while Mount Vesuvius prepares to explode. The disaster pic co-stars Kiefer Sutherland and Carrie-Ann Moss. It's also, for the moment, the highest-profile release on the company's 2014 slate ... so yeah, there are some strong expectations for it.

Paramount (a subsidiary of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA  ) )

The line

Labor Day

Finish: 7th place / Budget: $18 million / 3-day estimated total: $5.3 million

The analysis:

There really is no sugarcoating this one ... Labor Day did not meet expectations. Presumed to be an award season contender, the film from director Jason Reitman never really packed a punch. While it started off with a surprise Best Actress nomination Kate Winslet at the Golden Globes ... that was about it, which made its limited run release strategy more of a hindrance than a help.

The future

Paramount can't be shocked the movie opened toward the bottom of the pack as this quickly became a burn-off for the studio. It also probably isn't expecting much from Welcome to Yesterday, a new time travel teen drama slated for the end of the month. Both were certainly not high on Paramount's list of films that absolutely had to succeed.

That honor falls to Noah, which releases in March and will be the studio's third big tentpole in so many months. After the first two under-performed, it's imperative this one rise above the box office storm; otherwise it's going to be a long wait to June when the Transformers make their theatrical return.

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