Strong weekend bow for 'Paul Blart'

Kevin James comedy rings up nearly $34 mil

The Martin Luther King Jr. weekend is proving bountiful for at least one shopping-mall misfit.

Sony's PG-rated comedy "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" -- starring Kevin James ("I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry") as a hapless security guard-turned-hero -- rung up an impressive $33.8 million in estimated opening grosses through Sunday. That put the Happy Madison production firmly atop the domestic boxoffice headed into the Monday holiday.

"It's a huge number, there's no doubt about it," Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said.

Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" from Warner Bros. was pacing second over its second weekend of wide release, following several sessions in limited distribution. Pumping another $22.2 million it its tank this weekend, "Torino" now hauls a $73.2 million cume.

The frame's three other wide openers also loaded up on three-day coin.

Lionsgate's 3-D horror film "My Bloody Valentine" registered $21.9 million in third from a mix of extra-dimensional and conventional playdates.

Fox Searchlight's hip-hop biopic "Notorious" -- based on the life and death of rapper Chris "Biggie" Wallace, a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G. -- fetched $21.5 million for a fourth-place ranking through Sunday.

And family comedy "Hotel for Dogs" from DreamWorks and Paramount/Nickelodeon checked in with $17.7 million in fifth place.

Three pics posted varied sophomore sessions.

Fox's romantic comedy "Bride Wars" dropped a modest 44% to register $11.8 million in sixth place, with a $37.6 million cume.

Universal/Rogue horror pic "The Unborn" fell 51% to $9.8 million in seventh, with a $33.1 million cume.

And Sony's faith-based drama "Not Easily Broken" slid 60% for a $2.1 million weekend and $7.8 million cume.

In a limited bow, Wave Releasing's Vietnamese drama "Owl and the Sparrow" flew into three theaters and grossed $8,317, or a middling $2,772 per venue.

Elsewhere, Overture went wide with its Dustin Hoffman-Emma Thompson starrer "Last Chance Harvey," broadening the romantic comedy from just 16 engagements to 1,054 for an acceptable three-day tally of $4.7 million, or $4,417 per venue. "Harvey's" cume hit $5.2 million.

IFC Films expanded Steven Soderbergh's revolutionary epic "Che" into 16 locations in 11 new cities -- a boost of 11 playdates and nine cities -- to gross $152,161, or an impressive $9,510 per site. Cume on the Benicio Del Toro starrer reached $476,880.
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