January 16, 2009 / 3:32 AM / in 9 years

"Mall Cop" primed for strong box-office business

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Four films open wide Friday, each shopping for a distinct segment of the moviegoing audience during the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. But Sony’s comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” should capture the most business.

<p>Actors Kevin James (L) and Adam Sandler attend the NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics at Staples Center in Los Angeles, December 25, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>

Starring Kevin James, “Blart” is touted as a family film and has been tracking particularly well among young males.

“It’s a picture that plays to a very broad audience,” Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said.

Produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Prods., the PG-rated film has been backed by a heavy marketing campaign, and an opening north of $25 million appears likely through the Monday holiday.

Also unspooling this weekend is Fox Searchlight’s R-rated hip-hop biopic “Notorious,” with newcomer Jamal Woodard in the title role of slain rapper Christopher Wallace, aka the Notorious B.I.G. Strong urban appeal and the holiday frame are likely to combine for a solid bow in the upper-teen millions.

Lionsgate’s horror film “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” debuts in 2,534 locations, including 1,033 3-D venues -- the most to date for such a release thanks to an expanding base of 3-D-equipped auditoriums. Also rated R and likely to skew male, “Valentine” should draw less narrowly than “Notorious” and attract an older audience than “Blart” for an opening in the mid- to high-teen millions.

DreamWorks/Paramount’s family comedy “Hotel for Dogs” is getting a saturation release on more than 3,200 screens. The modestly budgeted production boasts a cast including Emma Roberts (“Nancy Drew”) and Don Cheadle, and the midteen-millions range is quite doable during the four-day span.

Clint Eastwood’s Warner Bros. release “Gran Torino” will be the most closely watched holdover. The drama, directed by and starring Eastwood, topped the domestic box office last weekend with a surprisingly strong $29.4 million during its fifth frame of release and first session in wide distribution.

If “Torino” manages a weekend-to-weekend hold of 50 percent or better through Sunday, its Monday grosses could lift the picture north of $20 million for the frame and again place the film on the medal stand.

Films marking notable expansions this weekend include the Holocaust drama “Defiance.” Paramount Vantage is expanding the Daniel Craig-starring feature from a pair of venues to more than 1,700.

In addition, Overture is expanding its Dustin Hoffman/Emma Thompson romance “Last Chance Harvey” wide to 1,054 venues after three weeks in limited release.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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