The Kevin Hart vehicle "Ride Along" set a new opening record for a January release, pulling in $41.2 million over the three-day weekend, according to reports.
That's a major milestone for Hart, a comedian with a large African-American following who starred in the recent rom-com "Think Like a Man." It's also a surprisingly strong showing for what initially looked like a throwaway buddy-cop comedy.
One factor could be that "Ride Along" is a return to the kind of street-style comedies that have faded somewhat from the African-American movie market. For the past several years, Tyler Perry has been flooding the market with upscale comedies and dramedies such as "Why Did I Get Married?" and "Confessions of a Marriage Counselor," which feature mostly upscale, professional, well-educated black characters. By contrast, "Ride Along" features Ice Cube, the rapper known for known for rowdy comedies like "Barbershop" and "Friday," as a surly Atlanta cop trying to crack a dangerous case, while Hart plays a high-school security guard hoping to join the force. Universal is said to be predicting $48 million for "Ride Along" by the time Monday is through.