Will Smith Movie Jolting Summer Box Office Back to Life

If early weekend estimates are correct, Sony’s buddy action comedy Bad Boys: Ride or Die could help jolt the battered summer office back to life with a domestic box opening of $53 million. Moreover, it could help put Smith on the road to a career comeback after the infamous Oscars slap.

Bad Boys 4, reuniting Smith with Martin Lawrence in the fourth outing of Sony’s long-running franchise, earned generally positive reviews and, perhaps more importantly, an A- CinemaScore. Black moviegoers made up the largest quadrant of the audience with 44 percent.

Friday’s haul of $21.6 million included $5.9 million in Thursday night previews. Ride or Die is arguably the first film of the summer to come in ahead of tracking, which had it opening to $48 million to $50 million. It’s also the second biggest behind Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

Ride or Die is the follow-up to Bad Boys for Life, which earned $6.4 million in Thursday previews on its way to a $62 million opening weekend. Opening in January 2020, it went on to earn $426 million at the global box office before theaters were shut due to the global pandemic.

Smith and Lawrence return in Ride or Die as Miami cops Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, who have to go on the run after their late police captain gets linked to drug cartels, and they attempt to clear his name. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (billed as Adil & Bilall) directed Bad Boys: Ride or Die from a script written by Chris Bremner and Will Beall.

The film marks the first major theatrical push for Smith since he accosted Chris Rock during the live telecast of the 2022 Oscars (which was seemingly addressed in the film).

The Hollywood Reporter learned that Smith’s agents at CAA have been calling studio production execs in recent weeks for the first time since the slap to explore possible projects, with the hope that the actor’s next film can be announced quickly after the release of Ride or Die, should it perform.

It’s a good weekend for Sony chief Tom Rothman and his team. The modestly budgeted The Garfield Movie is holding at No. 2 with an estimated $10.3 million for the weekend.

Paramount’s original action comedy IF is also enjoying staying power and currently looks to come in at No. 3 with $8.5 million.

Newcomer Ishana Night Shyamalan’s The Watchers is expected to open in fourth place with an estimated $7 million. The film is produced by her father M. Night Shyamalan.

Rounding out the top five is 20th Century and Disney’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes with an estimated $5.5 million.

Numbers will update Sunday morning.

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