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Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

Every once in awhile there comes a film that absolutely, positively should not exist, yet does, and should by all rights be buried at the box office, yet isn’t. In fact the opposite of that happens. It, inexplicably, becomes a massive hit.

And every once in awhile there comes a sequel from a film that absolutely, positively should not exist, yet does, and you wonder if life is just a cruel, unfunny, overused fart joke. That film is “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.”

I can’t legitimately admit to watching the first one, nor can I find anyone who will willingly brandish a ticket stub, but someone must have gone, since it made $146M back in 2009 and $183M worldwide on a budget of just $26M. All I can say is: what the hell took so long to make the sequel?!?

For a while, I thought no one would notice “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” made so much money, like with what happened with “Wild Hogs” when it somehow grossed $168M in North America and over $250M+ globally.

I even hesitate mentioning Disney’s 2007 title starring John Travolta, Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence as a suburban gang of motorcyclists enduring mid-life crises, for fear that the Mouse House will bring them all back for another ride, but then I remember Disney only makes Marvel and Star Wars live-action movies now and heave a huge sigh of relief.

Unfortunately for the American society, sequels like “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo,” “Grown Ups 2,” and “Weekend at Bernies II” exist, because the public demands it, and sadly, I can’t even exclude my own 7-year-old daughter from that statement.

“Dad, when does Paul Blart come out? I can’t wait to see it!” Her voice. Those words. It haunts me endlessly. All those billboards exclaiming: “Always Bet On Blart” and “Vegas Has a New High Roller.”  Blast you, Blart!

Yes, in some (i.e., most) ways, I feel I’ve failed her as a father and mentor and must retrace my steps, but what more can I do when I’ve carefully enlightened her cinematic journey with epic family adventures like “The Goonies,” “The Neverending Story,” “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” “The Dark Crystal,” and “The Princess Bride”?  Haven’t I done my due diligence? Why is this happening? What karmic catastrophe did I unleash?

You may feel the same way when “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” makes truckloads of money this weekend; let’s just hope for everyone’s sake, it doesn’t open #1, unseating Vin Diesel and his crew.

Even in its third weekend, the demise of “Furious 7” at the hands of Kevin James would surely be an embarrassment that could potentially be motivation for a terror organization, or possibly an alien civilization, to attempt a hostile takeover as they realize we, as a nation, are extremely susceptible at this point in our questionable, cultural infancy.

Or, it could just mean that come Monday morning, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 3” will be greenlit…and Deuce Bigalow and Joe Dirt may come on board as his newest lackeys.

This weekend I will let my daughter choose: “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” or “Monkey Kingdom.” I will also remind her that should she choose DisneyNature’s latest eco-friendly documentary, we will also get large ICEEs, all the popcorn she can possibly mash into her face and Sour Patch Kids…did I mention those? And Junior Mints. And Skittles. And Disneyland afterwards.

I’m not above such things, you know. If we go to “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2”? Apple slices. And a cup of tap water. And afterwards, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. I told you, I play dirty.

“Mall Cop 2” will engage in 3,600+ theaters, which is the most of any of the new releases; however it will likely fall short of its predecessor, which tracked down $31M in its debut.

DisneyNature has been releasing documentaries consistently since 2009’s “Earth” and has had much success, although only 2012’s “Chimpanzee,” with $28M, has come close to matching the $32M in green that “Earth” earned.

“Monkey Kingdom” will release in 2,000+ theaters– the most ever for a DisneyNature release–and could find upwards of $9M.

The other big player this weekend is Universal’s R-rated chill pill, “Unfriended.” From micro-budget maestro, Jason Blum (does anyone else dare work in horror these days?), the teen-centric flick should feed well in the flurry of media sharks these days.

In 2700+ theaters expect around $20M this weekend, which would already put it in the black considering most of Blumhouse’s productions are $5M or less. That’s a scary good business model he’s got going, which is why every studio in town is nipping at his heels.

In moderate wide release, Fox Searchlight is rolling out “True Story” in 525 theaters. The real-life yarn, based on New York Times reporter Michael Finkel, who had one of the FBI’s most wanted using his name, stars Jonah Hill as Finkel and James Franco as Christian Longo.

The truth of “True Story” is that Fox Searchlight isn’t really putting much marketing muscle behind this drama as the reviews have been pretty ho-hum. Could report with $2M-$3M.

Also debuting in 500+ theaters is Lionsgate’s “Child 44.” Is this another YA adaptation? No one really knows what it is, but I can tell this–the R-rated $50M drama is set in the former Soviet Union and stars Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Noomi Rapace. Makes you almost want to run out to the Redbox and rent it for $1.50, doesn’t it?  Almost.  Can’t see this making much more than $1M, unfortunately.

WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. Furious 7 –  $27M
  2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 – $24M
  3. Unfriended – $20M
  4. Home – $10M
  5. Monkey Kingdom – $9M

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PRIME CUT OF THE WEEK: Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (Dec. 18)

Trailer #2, with Han Solo and Chewbacca. Nuff said.

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Disney/Marvel’s “Ant-Man” (July 17)

The full trailer has arrived. Can these live up to all the Marvel hype? Looks like it. Think Marvel meets “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.” Can’t go wrong with that formula at the box office.

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CHINCY CUT OF THE WEEK: Happy Madison’s “Joe Dirt 2”

Yes, this is real. Streaming this summer…only on Crackle. Golden streaming, that is.

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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Image Courtesy of Sony Pictures; Poster Design by BLT Communications