Box-office: 'Unfriended' takes $656,000 in late-night showings

'Unfriended,' friended by critics, is off to a solid start at the box office

"Unfriended," the new cyberbullying-themed horror film from Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions, is off to a solid start at the box office. 

The $1-million dead-teen revenge movie scored $656,000 in ticket sales from Thursday night showings in 2,019 theaters beginning at 8 p.m. The film makes use of an unusual narrative device, in that the action all takes place on one character's computer screen. 

Low-budget horror movies are difficult to predict for box-office analysts. Some have said the movie could do as much as $20 million in its domestic debut, while Universal came out with a more conservative projection of not much more than $10 million. 

Critics' reviews bode fairly well. About 67% of critics who saw the film generally liked it, according to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. 

The same cannot be said for Sony Pictures' "Paul Bart: Mall Cop 2," starring Kevin James. The studio did not screen the film for critics, but those critics who have seen it have not been kind. The sequel currently has a 0% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  

The movie is expected to gross $16 million to $17 million in the U.S. and Canada through Sunday, which would be well below the nearly $32 million the original opened to in 2009. 

It grossed $450,000 in early showings Thursday night at 2,619 locations. 

Neither film is expected to top two-time victor "Furious 7," which could add another $30 million or more to its domestic total through Sunday. The Universal Pictures blockbuster has grossed more than $800 million worldwide so far. 

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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