Kevin James‘ family friendly Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 should hit a solid $22 million in its North American debut after earning $7.3 million Friday from 3,633 theaters, enough for a second-place finish after all-audience Goliath, Furious 7.
Mall Cop 2 will easily beat fellow new entry, Unfriended, but won’t match the debut of Paul Blart: Mall Cop over the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in 2009. That film, a surprise hit, earned a stellar $31.8 million for the three days and $39.2 million for the four days.
Unfriended, playing in 2,739 theaters, earned $6.7 million Friday for an expected three-day debut of $16.2 million. The microbudgeted horror-thriller, coming in No. 3, looks like another victory for Jason Blum‘s Blumhouse and Universal, considering it cost just $1 million to make.
Also from Universal, Furious 7 — which jumped the $1 billion mark at the global box office Friday — grossed $8.6 million Friday from 3,964 theaters for a projected weekend of $25.5 million and domestic cume north of $290 million through Sunday.
James was keen on making Mall Cop 2, which cost a relatively modest $30 million to make. The sequel is getting skewered by critics and sports a zero percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes; the first film wasn’t a favorite of critics either but did manage a 33 percent fresh rating. Mall Cop 2 fared better with moviegoers, who gave it a B- CinemaScore overall. And among those 18 and under, it nabbed an A- CinemaScore.
This time out, James’ character takes his family on vacation to Las Vegas, but duty quickly calls. Directed by Andy Fickman and co-produced by Adam Sandler‘s Happy Madison, Mall Cop 2 co-stars Raini Rodriguez, Neal McDonough and Shirley Knight. It goes out in 3,629 theaters.
Outside of the Grown Ups franchise, Mall Cop 2 looks to mark James’ best live-action opening since the first Mall Cop, besting Here Comes the Boom ($11 million), Zookeeper ($20 million) and The Dilemma ($17 million).
Drawing its strength from younger moviegoers, Unfriended is the latest collaboration between Universal and and Blumhouse following The Purge franchise, Ouija and The Boy Next Door. Unfriended unfolds completely over a teenager’s computer screen as she and her friends are stalked by an unseen figure seeking vengeance for a shaming video that led to another girl killing herself.
Timur Bekmambetov produced Unfriended alongside writer Nelson Greaves. Levan Gabriadze directed the R-rated movie, which is tracking best among moviegoers between the ages of 17 and 24.
Also opening this weekend nationwide is Disney’s critically acclaimed nature documentary Monkey Kingdom, which earned $1.6 million Friday from 2,012 theaters for a respectable three-day debut in the $4.5 million range.
At the specialty box office, El Machina continues to impress in its second outing. The edgy sci-fi film, from A24 Films, is now playing in a total of 39 theaters and should post a stellar theater average north of $21,000 for the weekend.