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By Hammad Zaidi | January 21, 2014

Hey Filmmakers! Welcome to Going Bionic, #195. I hope you had a relaxing Martin Luther King Day. Mine was filled with mourning my San Francisco 49er’s loss in the NFC Championship Game. Actually, I got over the loss on Sunday, but it still stings! I hated watching my beloved 49ers get inches away from returning to their second straight Super Bowl, only to have it ripped away. But then again, the last three years have been a lot more fun for me to watch my favorite team than the previous 15 years were, so I can’t complain too much.

As you may know, I like sharing distribution trends, especially ones that are shaped by the tastes of moviegoers. Thus, this week’s article is especially fun for me. Today we’re exploring how women moviegoers drove Ride Along to box office supremacy, and how the female audience has been crucial to the success of many films that have won MLK weekend since 2001. So, without further ado, let’s examine how women have influenced box office success over MLK weekend.

Ride Along Sets MLK Weekend Record at the Box Office
Universal Pictures scored big over the holiday weekend with the Kevin Hart/Ice Cube comedy, Ride Along, which just set the record for the biggest opening over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. The picture earned a surprising $41,237,000 on 2,663 screens in its first three days of release, which is a solid $15,485 per screen average. Furthermore, the $25 million dollar budgeted film soared north of $47.6 million over the four-day weekend, which is also record-setting. These numbers easily best Cloverfield, (2008) the previous MLK weekend record holder, which earned $40,058,229 on 3,411 screens, (a $11,744 per screen average), and finished the four-day frame earning $46,146,546.

Strong Appeal to Women
Ride Along scored big with female audience members, as 57% of its audience was women, and 54% of those women were over the age of 25. These numbers seem a bit surprising for a cop-oriented buddy comedy, especially since critics only gave Ride Along a 16% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the appeal to women clearly helped Ride Along cruise past two testosterone-driven releases; Universal’s Lone Survivor (2013), which earned  $23.239 million from Friday through Sunday and Paramount’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014), which finished in fourth place at the weekend box office by earning $17.2 million in 3,387 theaters.

Ride Along Benefitted From its PG-13 Rating
The only thing better than a hit “R” rated comedy, is a hit “PG-13” or “PG” rated comedy. This is because “PG” rated films rule the box office, consistently making about 40% more than “R” rated films. Thus, Kevin Hart’s kinder, gentler, “PG-13” version comedy in Ride Along, may be a big reason the film earned so much at the box office. Furthermore, if a “PG-13” film like Ride Along earns a solid word-of-mouth, it could not only set itself up for box office gold this year, but it could a position itself for a healthy run of sequels. Thus, if Ride Along can hold its ground for a few more winning weekends (or at least top-three finishes), it should set itself up for a rosy future. The film is already predicted to earn north of $100 million domestically.

Relationship Films Have Worked Over MLK Weekend
While the success of Ride Along is a surprise, it is by no means an accident. Since 2001, four of the 10 top-grossing films released on MLK weekend have been relationship-oriented. In addition to Ride Along being #1 on the all-time MLK Weekend list, Sony’s Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), won its opening weekend in 2009, by earning $31.832 million on 3,144 screens over the three-day frame, and $39.234 million including MLK Monday. Furthermore, Universal’s Along Came Polly, (2004), won its opening weekend by earning $27.721 million on 2,984 screens in the first three days, and $32.450 million including MLK Monday. Last but certainly not least, Paramount’s Save the Last Dance (2001), won its opening weekend by earning $23.45 million on 2,230 screens from Friday through Sunday, and totaled $27.526 including MLK Monday. Thus, relationship-oriented films have certainly fared well over the MLK holiday. This, of course, signals that women moviegoers are a huge reason for the success of many films released over MLK weekend.

Okay, filmmakers. That’s what I have for you today. As always, I thank you again for lending me your eyes, and I truly look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. Until then, I hope you have a tremendous week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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