LOS ANGELES, June 10 — Will Smith marked his first major film hit since his infamous Oscars slap as Bad Boys: Ride or Die debuted atop the North American box office, in a sign audiences are ready to welcome back the actor.

Sony’s fourth instalment of the action comedy series took home an estimated US$56 million, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported, making it a major step in Smith’s career rehabilitation after he slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards in 2022.

Bad Boys is in elite company and the series has room to run. These are excellent numbers,” said analyst David A. Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research.

The success is a welcome departure from Smith’s 2022 action release Emancipation, where his role as a runaway slave in the American Civil War failed to resonate with audiences and flopped at the box office.

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Bad Boys snatched first place from Sony’s family-friendly The Garfield Movie, starring Chris Pratt as the lazy, lasagna-loving feline, which dropped to second place with US$10 million in ticket sales for the Friday-through-Sunday period.

In third and taking in US$8 million was Paramount’s If, which follows Cailey Fleming as a young girl who, along with neighbuor Ryan Reynolds, embarks on an adventure to reconnect forgotten made-up playmates with their children.

Warner Bros horror film The Watchers opened in fourth place at US$7 million, while 20th Century’s action sci-fi Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes ranked fifth at US$5.4 million.

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Rounding out the top 10 were:

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (US$4.2 million)

The Fall Guy (US$2.7 million)

The Strangers: Chapter 1 (US$1.8 million)

Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle (US$820,000)

In A Violent Nature (US$640,000) — AFP