LOS ANGELES — Even in its debut weekend, Kevin James’s Paul Blart sequel couldn’t outpace Furious 7.
The reigning box office champion might have slowed from its blockbuster debut, but Furious 7 maintained first place for the third weekend in a row with an estimated $29.1 million, according to box office tracker Rentrak on April 19.
This brings the high-octane action movie’s domestic total to a staggering $294 million, well above the $202.8 million that Fast & Furious 6 had earned at the same point in the cycle in 2013. The film crossed the $1 billion mark April 17.
“The film has set a new standard for the potential for box-office in the pre-summer month of April and has truly become part of movie folklore with its record setting numbers, strong reviews, spectacular word-of-mouth and of course the outpouring of support for late star Paul Walker,” Rentrak’s Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian said.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 came in a close second with an estimated $24 million. While the PG-rated comedy didn’t perform as well as the first film’s $31.8 million opening in 2009, it did surpass Sony’s modest expectations. Also, it only cost $30 million to produce.
“It’s a great result. It’s going to be very profitable for us and a big success,” Sony’s President of Worldwide Distribution Rory Bruer said.
“It was something that Kevin really wanted to do and we wanted to do it with him,” he said. “Kudos to Kevin for working so hard in promoting the film.”
Dergarabedian said “Blart’s” opening “proves that if you give the people what they want, you can make a tidy profit.”
Meanwhile, the low-budget, social media themed thriller Unfriended took third place with $16 million — sixteen times its production budget.
With Furious 7 topping the charts again and a strong debut for Unfriended, Universal’s President of Domestic Distribution Nick Carpou marveled how both of films are “so successful at both ends of the spectrum.”
“When you find success you look to repeat them,” he said of Universal’s partnership with Blumhouse on microbudget horror films. “It works.”
Unfriended is the 11th microbudget film to open above $15 million for Blumhouse. Other successes include Ouija, The Purge series and The Boy Next Door.
According to exit polls, audiences for Unfriended were 60 percent female and 74 percent under the age of 25.
Rounding out the top five were holdovers Home and The Longest Ride, with $10.3 million and $6.9 million, respectively.
Disney’s animal film Monkey Kingdom debuted to $4.7 million to claim the seventh spot, in line with last year’s Bears, also from Disneynature.
(LINDSEY BAHR, AP Film Writer)