"Mall Cop" stays on top at box office

Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:08pm EST
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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Kevin James comedy "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" captured the top spot at the North American box office for a second week in a row, beating back a challenge by the vampires and werewolves of "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans."

"Mall Cop," which stars James as a bumbling shopping mall security guard who takes on a gang of high-tech crooks, sold an estimated $21.5 million in tickets over the weekend and has now taken in a strong total of $64.8 million in two weeks, distributor Columbia Pictures said on Sunday.

James, the star of the sitcom "The King of Queens," also co-wrote and co-produced "Mall Cop," which was made for a modest $26 million and has become a major box office hit despite taking a drubbing from critics.

"This movie was not made for the critics, it was made for the audience, and that certainly paid off," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office tracking and analysis firm Media By Numbers.

"Its going to be a $100 million-plus movie now and I don't think anybody thought that was possible," he said.

Dergarabedian said that the success of "Cop" meant that "Kevin James is now a bona fide movie star" after nine years on television and in mostly sidekick film roles.

"Underworld," the third film in an action series chronicling a centuries-old battle between vampires and werewolves, also had a strong debut, falling just short of the top spot with $20.7 million.


<p>Actor/comedian Kevin James laughs during a news conference in Las Vegas April 20, 2002. REUTERS/Ethan Miller</p>