Bad Boys’ Fourth Installment Shatters Predictions with $56M Debut, Sparks Hope for Movie Industry

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As the sweltering summer days intensified, so did the anticipation surrounding the theatrical release of the fourth installment of the hit action-comedy series, “Bad Boys: Ride or Die”. The dynamic duo, beloved by generations, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, made a triumphant return to the big screen, vehemently disproving doubters and shattering weekend forecasts with a cool $56 million debut. This spectacular opening not only turned the tide for what has been a stifled moviegoing market in the wake of the pandemic, but also marked Smith’s most significant success since the infamous Chris Rock incident at the Academy Awards.

The predictions for “Ride or Die” cast a wide spectrum of possibilities, reflecting the mercurial cinema landscape and Smith’s clouded box-office influence. Yet, as the dust settled, it was evident that the Sony Pictures’ venture confidently held its ground and, in fact, exceeded its projected revenue range.

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Helmed by producing giant, Jerry Bruckheimer, and directed by the talented duo of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, “Ride or Die” was Smith’s vital test of theatrical resilience following his 10-year Oscar ban resulting from the unforgettable 2022 Rock slapping incident. The ambitious project, already in the incubator at the time of the Oscar incident, fearlessly pursued a lofty $100 million budget.

“Ride or Die” followed Smith’s participation in the Apple film release “Emancipation,” a modest success on the streaming platform after an unassuming theatrical run. Raising eyebrows this time around, Smith veered away from introspective Oscar reflections. Instead, he embarked on an electrifying publicity tour that spanned Mexico to Saudi Arabia, gracing red carpets and appearing on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon’” and “Hot Ones”, even surprising Los Angeles moviegoers with an impromptu theater debut.

While the “Bad Boys” installment trailed behind cinematic disappointments like “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” and “The Fall Guy,” it picked up enough momentum to claim a solid weekend win. Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore’s senior media analyst, described the film’s overperformance as the “ignite spark” the film industry desperately needed, especially when well-marketed films were underdelivering.

Despite narrowly missing the previous franchise achievement of “Bad Boys for Life,” which raked in a staggering $62.5 million on its 2020 debut, “Ride or Die” still proved a force to be reckoned with. Amassing an additional $48.6 million internationally and fetching an “A-” CinemaScore despite receiving mixed reviews, it spoke volumes about the enduring adoration for this action-packed franchise and its dynamic lead actors.

This installment witnesses Smith and Lawrence slip back into their iconic roles as Miami detectives almost three decades after the original. The storyline sees them intertwining in a fierce tangle to dispute fraudulent charges against their late police captain, and at one point, audiences witness Lawrence slapping Smith, in a big nod to their “bad boys” legacy.

Film theaters, however, will need more hits like “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” to rejuvenate a financially struggling industry, especially with ticket sales plunging 26% from last year and over 40% from pre-pandemic figures. The industry’s next litmus test unfolds with the release of Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” which after several straight-to-Disney+ releases, is enjoying a more traditional rollout.

Meanwhile, the previous weekend’s top film, “The Garfield Movie,” scooted down to second place, followed by “If,” a fantasy film from Ryan Reynolds, and “The Watchers,” a poorly-received horror offering from Ishana Night Shyamalan. Rounding out the top five was “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” standing tall domestically at $150 million and $360 million worldwide.

The final domestic figures for the ticket sales from Friday to Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters will be unveiled on Monday. Nevertheless, for now, the “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” is enjoying its moment in the limelight, and perhaps offering the flicker of hope that the beleaguered movie industry so urgently needs.