Box Office: ‘Furious 7’ to Outrace ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2’

Paul Blart has nothing on Dom Toretto.

Vin Diesel’s guttural-voiced speed demon and the rest of the cast will power “Furious 7” past “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2’s” return to the scene of shopping-center crime, picking up roughly $30 million in its third week of release.

Sony Pictures believes its hapless mall enforcer comedy is on track to debut to $17 million when it premieres this weekend on 3,629 theaters. Outside analysts peg the figure above $20 million. That’s less than the $31.8 million to which the first film in the Blart saga opened in 2009. However, Fandango reports that pre-sales are neck-in-neck with “Furious 7,” indicating that “Paul Blart” part deux could end up giving the action sequel a run for its money.

In “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” Kevin James returns as the titular enforcer, with Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison label producing the film. It cost a modest $30 million to produce, basically the Jiffy Lube bill on “Furious 7.”

That’s not the only new entrant trying to get out of the way of the “Fast and Furious” crew. Universal, the studio behind “Furious 7,” will debut the micro-budget horror film “Unfriended” in 2,739 North American theaters.

The digital-age chiller unfolds on a teenager’s computer screen as she and her G-chatting buddies are stalked by an unseen figure hellbent on revenge. Produced for a measly $1 million by Blumhouse Productions, it stands to make $12 million. It has generated some strong social-media buzz that should make it another lucrative collaboration between Universal and the horror label following such successes as “The Purge” series and “Ouija.”

For the family crowd, Disney will field “Monkey Kingdom,” a look at a family of toque macaques that will be released under the Disneynature banner. Tina Fey narrates the picture about the cuddly creatures. It will bow on 2,012 theaters and should do $5 million for the weekend.

That leaves serial killer thriller “Child 44,” with Tom Hardy, as the weekend’s only new entrant. The Lionsgate release debuts in 500 theaters, and the studio hopes it can pull in roughly $2 million. The dark picture cost roughly $48 million to make, and Lionsgate has pre-licensed foreign territories and taken on two financial partners to mitigate risk and cover more than half the budget. Russia, the setting for the film, is so thrilled by its depiction that it has banned the film.

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