Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston's new movie The Upside ended Aquaman's reign atop the North American box office over the weekend. The Upside was a surprise hit after LGBT organizations called for their members to boycott the film over old derogatory tweets and jokes by Hart resurfaced online in December.
The Upside upended Jason Momoa's Aquaman as the king of the movie box office, after dominating the #1 spot for three consecutive weeks.
Based on a true story, the Hollywood remake of the 2011 French-language film The Intouchables stars Cranston as a quadriplegic billionaire who forms an unlikely bond with his ex-con caregiver, played by Hart.
The serious role breaks new ground for Hart who showed off his straight-faced acting skills in the comedy-drama.
The Upside was trashed by critics who wrote negative reviews, giving it just a 39 per cent approval rating on movie review site RottenTomatoes.com.
But film fans who followed Hart's ongoing Oscar Awards drama were more receptive to the emotionally uplifting story of a Black man caring for a white quadriplegic. They flocked to theaters, helping to take the movie to number one with an estimated $19.6 million worth of ticket sales its opening weekend - almost double experts' initial estimates.
Hart stepped down as host for the 2019 Academy Awards ceremony in December after after his decade-old Twitter comments, about his son growing up to be ghey, came back to bite him.
The LGBT community called for boycotts after Hart appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to apologize and to say he was being harassed online by "trolls."
A film critic for Fox News San Diego affiliate Fox5, who called Hart's apology "garbage," said the controversy wasn't enough to boycott the heartwarming film.
"If it's Mel Gibson, who has said and done much, much worse than almost everyone else in Hollywood combined — I'm with ya. Let's avoid his films. But if we're going to talk about what Hart said in an attempt at humor — well, why are we not talking about Andrew 'Dice' Clay and what he used to say onstage?"