‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’ Steals Box-Office #1 From Clint Eastwood

Kevin James' first solo comedy is a hit in a record-breaking MLK weekend.

The Box-Office Top Five

#1 [movie id=”368253″]”Paul Blart: Mall Cop”[/movie] ($33.8 million)
#2 [movie id=”384597″]”Gran Torino”[/movie] ($22.2 million)
#3 [movie id=”377190″]”My Bloody Valentine 3-D”[/movie] ($21.9 million)
#4 [movie id=”360770″]”Notorious”[/movie] ($21.5 million)
#5 [movie id=”366067″]”Hotel for Dogs”[/movie] ($17.7 million)

The wide variety of crowd-pleasing films on offer helped make this a record-breaking Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. The total haul was nearly $200 million, up more than 29 percent from the same period last year, making it an all-time MLK high.

Proving that it takes another cop to make Dirty Harry’s day, Kevin James’ first solo comedy, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” took in an impressive $33.8 million, beating out all other newcomers for the top spot at the box office.

But Clint Eastwood is still feeling lucky, as “Gran Torino” just fell to #2, bringing in $22.2 million, for a grand total of $73.2 million so far. In its second week of nationwide release, “Torino” is also the only film from last week to remain in the top five, as Clint’s sophomore competitors “Bride Wars” and “The Unborn” dropped to sixth and seventh place.

Horror newcomer “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” took the place of “Unborn,” opening at #3 with a respectable $21.9 million, proving that it pays to market your horror flick as an event extravaganza. Was anyone else disappointed that massive knives didn’t leap out of the screen, or that waves of fire didn’t toast the front row?

Fox Searchlight’s biopic “Notorious” opened with a small share of controversy. Four men were stabbed at an afterparty in Brooklyn on Saturday, and another individual was reportedly shot at a screening of the film in Greensboro, North Carolina. But that kind of negative press didn’t deter audiences from checking out the Notorious B.I.G. biopic, which opened at #4 with $21.5 million. That’s only a few million shy of “Valentine” from fewer screens across the country, and it’s one of the biggest openings of a rap-oriented movie to date.

“Hotel for Dogs” marked its territory at #5 with just $17.7 million, a long way from the money “Marley & Me” did just a few weeks ago. It’s not bad business, but audiences might be suffering from a bit of puppy fatigue, and chose to take the little ones to “Mall Cop” instead.

“Defiance” and “Last Chance Harvey” both expanded nationwide from limited runs, with modest results. Only “Defiance” managed to crack the top 10, landing at #8 with $9.2 million from 1,900 screens, whereas “Last Chance Harvey” lingered at #13, bringing in $4.7 million from 1,054 theaters. December saw specialty films and limited runs like “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Gran Torino” do better numbers than splashier studio offerings, but that balance seems to be tipping back, as audiences flock to the biggest and most notorious movies of the weekend.

Upcoming Releases
Lakeshore’s [movie id=”371675″]”Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”[/movie] will look to take a bite out of the box office, New Line’s long-delayed fantasy [movie id=”308543″]”Inkheart”[/movie] will finally hit theaters, and the Weinstein Company will attempt to capitalize on Mickey Rourke’s buzz with [movie id=”277164″]”Killshot.”[/movie]

Check out everything we’ve got on “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”

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