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Ride or Die’ Was The Fun Jumpstart the Box Office Needed

Ride or Die’ Was The Fun Jumpstart the Box Office Needed

Whenever a Sony movie comes in at No. 1, Tom Rothman drives his 1967 Ford Mustang to the Culver City lot and leaves it parked in front of the Thalberg building. But on Monday, there was a hitch after Bad Boys: Ride or Die opened to a victorious $56.5 million at the domestic box office: the red beauty wouldn’t start.

aThe chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group spent more than an hour tinkering and looking under the hood, but he gave up and decided against calling AAA. What did it really matter when the most important issue at hand — the film — had sped out of the gate much faster than anyone expected despite a terrible early summer for a number of movies and the Will Smith factor of it all (it is the actors’ first major studio film since he slapped Oscar host Chris Rock on live television in early 2022).

All eyes had been on Pixar’s Inside Out 2 (June 16), Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 (July 3) and Marvel’s Deadpool & Wolverine (July 26) to carry out the summer box office rescue effort. Bad Boys 4 was mostly left out of the conversation, but the Smith-Martin Lawrence buddy action comedy could now become known as the film that kicked off the recovery thanks to their savvy and humorous-as-ever pairing.

“People needed to be reminded how much fun it can be to go to the movies. It is that simple. You’re already seeing that in word-of-mouth. Every day so far has been better than what we projected,” says Rothman. “I’ll paraphrase the great Cyndi Lauper, ‘summer audiences just wanna have fun!” Case-in-point: Bad Boys boasts near-perfect exit scores and an A- CinemaScore. Adds Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore: “this mostly underrated title finds itself in the position of representing a turning point in the comeback of the tumultuous summer season of ’24.”

In its first four days, Bad Boys 4 has already passed up Warner Bros.’ Memorial Day weekend release Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga at the domestic box office with $62.8 million in ticket sales (Furiosa’s North American tally is $59.1 million). That’s a startling accomplishment considering Bad Boys cost a net $100 million to produce before marketing. Furiosa’s net budget before marketing, including a stop-off at the Cannes Film Festival, was $168 million.

And fellow Alcon and Sony release The Garfield Movie, which opened opposite Furiosa, has grossed $192 million globally, compared to $144.7 million for Furiosa. To date, 20th Century’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is the top-earner of summer with $360 million in global ticket sales.

Bad Boys 4 didn’t open too far behind the $62 million domestic bow of Bad Boys for Life in January 2020. That film went on to earn $426 million at the global box office to rank as that year’s top earner after theaters were shut down in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ride or Die has has opened in its first 58 markets overseas to $50.9 million for a global start of $107.4 million, and is strong business doing across Europe and Latin America.

Sony worked hard to lure in a diverse audience when marketing Ride or Die and specifically, Latino consumers, who are the most frequent moviegoers. It paid off.

In terms of the demographic breakdown, Black moviegoers represented the biggest quadrant of Bad Boy 4’s opening weekend audiemce, or 34 percent, like Bad Boys for Life, according to PostTrak surveys of U.S. cinemas. Latino consumers jumped from 23 percent of ticket buyers to 33 percent this time. Sony held a number of targeted screenings, as well as hosting a Miami premiere where Bad Boys star Paola Núñez Rivas was on hand alongside the likes of soccer great Lionel Messi, one of Latin America’s biggest stars and cultural icons.

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In North America, the percentage of white moviegoers buying tickets dropped from 32 percent for Bad Boys 3 to 21 percent for Bad Boys 4. Studio insiders say they aren’t concerned, noting that 2024 summer films doing the most business have been those playing to films appealing to an ethnically diverse audience, including Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes or John Krasinski and Paramount’s. Conversely, May’s biggest disappointments, Furiosa and The Fall Guy, played to a majority white audience, according to PostTrak surveys.

Even Rothman’s rivals are privately commending Sony’s deft handling of Bad Boys 4, which could change both the narrative of the summer box office and Smith’s career. Sony insiders won’t comment on any chance of a Bad Boys 5, or any other potential starring vehicle for Smith (their marquee series together was the Men in Black franchise, which Smith last starred in 12 years ago).

“I really do think this is the jumpstart we needed, and there’s a very good range of product coming,” says Rothman of the upcoming summer landscape.

Tracking suggests Pixar and Disney’s Inside Out 2 will debut in the $80 million range to $82 million. Others believe it has a shot at $90 million-plus, but no one wants more sky-is-falling headlines if it viewed as underperforming. They’d prefer to take the Bad Boys route.

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