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'Ride Along' in the driver's seat

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Hollywood is getting those nice surprises as it begins a new year. Now, that included the current winner, "Ride Along." Add that to "Lone Survivor" and the box office is off and running.

But, there is a holiday so that means a three-day and a four-day total. In this case, the winner will still be "Ride Along." It will break "Cloverfield's" total for the Martin Luther King Jr holiday when all it said and done. Just last weekend, "Lone Survivor" became the second-best January opening so now that drops to third best after "Ride Along" and "Cloverfield."

"Lone Survivor" is now split along political party lines and so far, and it favors one side. Let's leave it at that since this is not a report about politics. However, Hollywood got slapped around by its success and many are not happy. They tend to ignore that group and many times it backfires on them.

Other newcomers didn't exact bomb except for "Devil's Due." It tanked and proved that all horror films do not have fantastic debut weekends before falling flat. "The Nut Job" beat "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" for the battle of those two wide releases.

Weekend
1. "Ride Along" - three-day, $41.2 million; four-day estimate, $48 million
2. "Lone Survivor" - three day, $23.2 million; four day, $27.5 million
3. "The Nut Job" - three day, $20.5 million; $26.6 million
4. "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" - three day, $17.2 million; four-day, $19.5 million
5. "Frozen" - three day, $11.9 million; four-day, $18 million

Before this goes on, let's hear it for "Frozen." This film will be studied on how to make a hit animated movie that has staying power. But the team of Kevin Hart and Ice Cube did indeed melt the box office right now.

OK, the Oscar-nominated films enjoyed some headlines and bounce. "August: Osage County" picked up many more theaters, while "Gravity" and "Dallas Buyers Club" also added some. It was "American Hustle" which fared the best of out those. It also did better than the boost for "Wolf of Wall Street."

If one really wants to track movies in which audiences flocked too that are nominated, that would be animated films. Both ""Frozen:" and "Despicable Me 2" are well over $300 million. Of the nine best films nominated, only "Gravity" ($258 million) can compete on that level.

So, what happens now on that front? Official screenings of all motion pictures with one or more nominations will begin for members on Saturday, Jan. 25. They will take place in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, London, New York and the San Francisco Bay area. Active members of the Academy are eligible to vote for the winners in all categories.

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