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New in Theaters April 17: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Unfriended, Monkey Kingdom

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By Chris Kavan - 04/16/15 at 06:43 AM CT

It has been a very impressive April thus far, though really it's all due to the amazing pace set by Furious 7. While this weekend has a few more films to offer, I think it's safe to predict that the Furious crew still has little to worry about and should be able to retain its top spot at the box office. For those who have had their fill of fast cars and action, there are two family-friendly titles and a social media-fueled horror film to choose from. Hopefully all this combined will continue to drive the box office into the black for the year.

PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 Somehow the first Paul Blart film, starring Kevin James in the lead as a bumbling mall cop who somehow takes down an organized criminal organization who shows up on his turf, made a good amount of money. Nearly $150 million ($146.3 to be exact) on a scant budget of just $26 million. James' rotund, nice guy routine has proven effective both on TV and the big screen - and while I'm not exactly sure of the appeal, if it works, go with it. Mall Cop 2 arrives six years after the original, however, and I don't know if that appeal is still there. This time the venue moves to Vegas, at a convention for mall cops where he will be a key speaker. Of course, something terrible is in the works and Blart will once again save the day... somehow. He also still has to deal with his daughter (Raini Rodriguez), who, I am sure, is growing up way too fast. Supporting cast includes Neal McDonough, Daniella Alonso, Ana Gasteyer, Nicholas Turturro, D.B. Woodside and Eduardo Verįstegui. We'll see if the doughy every-man still has the right touch, though I think the chances of this getting anywhere near the original film is next to nil.

UNFRIENDED It was only a matter of time, really. While Paranormal Activity used cameras and such to good effect (including web cams at one point) and there have been plenty of other horror films that have used the Internet as a main point - Unfriended is the first horror film to revolve around social media as the main selling point. A teen finds herself the focus of online shaming and bullying and takes her life - one year later as six friend connect via Skype, she logs back and and will not let them go until she finds the one responsible for the leaked video that led her down the path to suicide. From what I've seen, it does look interesting - at least worth streaming at some point. While I'm sure it's not truly original, I have faith - and the social media angle may draw in a bigger crowd than usual - but I don't see this being a huge hit.

MONKEY KINGDOM It's time once again for the annual DisneyNature offering. The past has brought us lions, bears (no tigers... yet), chimps, and now the monkey (which are wholly differing from chimpanzees). Narrated by Tina Fey, this film will follow a mother and her newborn in the Temple Troop - a dynamic group living in the ruins and jungles of Southeast Asia. Disneynature has delivered withing the $15 - $32 million range, so there is a good chance Monkey Kingdom falls withing that range. Once again, this will be geared mainly toward families - so between this and Mr. Blart, hopefully families are ready to go out over the weekend. This particular brand has an even more niche audience than horror - so it will be interesting to see which film comes out on top.

Even with the increased competition this weekend, I see no real threat to Furious 7. It should once again be on top to the box office - the question is, will it be enough for it to hit the $1 billion mark (internationally) over the weekend. It's going to be close - domestically, it should cross $275 million for sure - getting close to that $300 million mark.


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