ENTERTAINMENT

‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ boosts Will Smith’s comeback and the box office with $56 million opening

Jun 9, 2024, 4:43 PM

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Will Smith, left, and Martin Lawrence in "Bad Boys: Ride...

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Will Smith, left, and Martin Lawrence in "Bad Boys: Ride or Die." (Frank Masi/Columbia Pictures-Sony via AP)

(Frank Masi/Columbia Pictures-Sony via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” the fourth installment in the Will Smith-Martin Lawrence action comedy series, opened with an estimated $56 million in theaters over the weekend, handing Hollywood a much-needed summer hit and Smith his biggest success since he slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards.

Expectations were all over the map for “Ride or Die” given the dismal moviegoing market thus far this summer and Smith’s less certain box-office clout. In the end, though, the Sony Pictures release came in very close to, or slightly above, its tracking forecast.

“Ride or Die,” produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, is Smith’s first theatrical test since his 2022 slap of Rock earned him a 10-year Oscar ban. The “Bad Boys” film was in development at the time and ultimately went forward with about a $100 million production budget.

Smith starred in the Apple release “Emancipation,” but that film — released in late 2022 — was shot before the slap and received only a modest theatrical release before streaming.

This time around, Smith largely avoided soul-searching interviews looking back on the Oscars and instead went on a whistle-stop publicity tour of red carpets from Mexico to Saudi Arabia, where he attended what was billed as the country’s first Hollywood premiere. The 55-year-old Smith, who for years was one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon,” the YouTube series “Hot Ones” and on Friday, made a surprise appearance at a Los Angeles movie theater.

Critical weekend

Given that “Bad Boys” trailed May disappointments like “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” and “The Fall Guy” – both of which struggled to pop with ticket buyers despite very good reviews – the “Ride or Die” opening counts as a critical weekend win for the movie business.

“The fact that a movie overperformed is the best possible news,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “It seems like all we’ve been doing over the past few weeks and almost since the beginning of the year, with a couple of exceptions, is try to figure out why seemingly well-marketed, well-reviewed movies have underperformed. This ignites the spark that the industry has been waiting for.”

“Ride or Die” still didn’t quite manage to match the opening of the previous “Bad Boys” film: 2020’s “Bad Boys for Life.” That movie, released in January 2020, debuted with $62.5 million. After the pandemic shut down theaters, it was the highest grossing North American release of that year, with $204 million domestically.

“Ride or Die” added $48.6 million internationally. Though reviews were mixed (64% on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences gave the film a high grade with an “A-” CinemaScore. Black moviegoers accounted for 44% of ticket buyers, the largest demographic.

In the film, which comes 29 years after the original, Smith and Lawrence reprise their roles as Miami detectives. The plot revolves around uncovering a scheme to frame their late police captain (Joe Pantoliano). In one of the movie’s most notable scenes, Lawrence slaps Smith and calls him a “bad boy.”

Movie theaters will need a lot more than “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” though, to right the ship. Ticket sales are down 26% from last year and more than 40% below pre-pandemic totals, according to Comscore. A big test comes next weekend with the release of Pixar’s “Inside Out 2.” After sending several Pixar releases straight to Disney+, the studio has vowed a lengthy, traditional theatrical rollout this time.

Last weekend’s top film “The Garfield Movie,” slid to second place. Also from Sony, the family animated comedy collected $10 million in ticket sales over its third weekend, bringing its domestic gross to $68.6 million.

The weekend’s other new wide release, “The Watchers,” failed to click with moviegoers. The horror film, directed by Ishana Night Shyamalan, daughter of M. Night Shyamalan, is about a stranded 28-year-old artist in Ireland. Following poor reviews, the Warner Bros. release grossed $7 million in 3,351 theaters.

That allowed “If,” the Ryan Reynolds imaginary friend fantasy, to grab third place in its fourth weekend of release, bringing the Paramount Pictures cumulative domestic total to $93.5 million. Rounding out the top five was “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” which added $5.4 million in its fifth weekend of release. It has grossed $150 million domestically and $360 million worldwide.

Box office winners

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” $56 million.

2. ”The Garfield Movie,” $10 million.

3. “If,” $8 million.

4. “The Watchers,” $7 million.

5. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” $5.4 million.

6. “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” $4.2 million.

7. “The Fall Guy,” $2.7 million.

8. “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” $2.4 million.

9. “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” $1.9 million.

10. “The Strangers: Chapter 1,” $1.8 million.

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‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ boosts Will Smith’s comeback and the box office with $56 million opening