"Ride Along" is the first starring role for Hart, whose box-office status has been on the rise since the success of his 2013 stand-up film "Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain" and memorable roles in such movies as "Think Like a Man," "This Is the End" and "Grudge Match."
"He's everywhere it seems," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. "I know he was co-starring with Ice Cube in 'Ride Along,' but this really was marketed as a Kevin Hart movie. There's no question he's a movie star now who doesn't require any qualifications before his name."
In second place, Universal's Navy SEAL drama "Lone Survivor" starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster earned $23.2 million in its second weekend in wide release, bringing its domestic total to $74 million.
Open Road Films' animated film "The Nut Job" featuring the voices of Will Arnett and Brendan Fraser opened in third place with $20.6 million.
The weekend's other major new releases, Paramount's spy reboot "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" and the Fox horror flick "Devil's Due," respectively opened in fourth and seventh place. "Jack Ryan," which stars Chris Pine in the titular role, debuted with a disappointing $17.2 million, while "Devil's Due" featuring Zach Gilford and Allison Miller birthed $8.5 million.
Several films nominated for Academy Awards last week received a bump at the box office following their nods, including "American Hustle" in sixth place with $10.6 million, "August: Osage County" in eighth place with $7.6 million and "The Wolf of Wall Street" with $7.5 million.
The best picture contenders "Gravity," "Captain Phillips," "12 Years a Slave" and "Dallas Buyers Club" were all rereleased in theaters this weekend following their Oscar nominations. "Gravity" is up with "American Hustle" for the most trophies with 10 nominations each.
"The Oscars definitely have an impact on studios' decision-making process," said Dergarabedian. "These are movies that would normally be played out, finished, pretty much done in terms of box office, and now they're getting a completely new lease on life."
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.