'Furious 7' expected to stay on top despite three newcomers

#boxoffice forecast: @fastfurious to add another $30-$35M in third weekend

"Furious 7" is not going to run out of gas at the box office any time soon.

Going into its third weekend, the action film is expected to add $30 million to $35 million to its robust domestic haul of $259.5 million, according to people familiar with pre-release audience surveys.

That would put it ahead of comedic sequel "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2," microbudget horror film "Unfriended" and nature documentary "Monkey Kingdom."

Directed by franchise newcomer James Wan, "Furious 7" film takes the ensemble (including Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez) around the globe from London to Los Angeles, Tokyo, the Dominican Republic, Abu Dhabi and back to Los Angeles. 

The latest film in the Universal Pictures franchise, which cost a whopping $190 million to make, faced unexpected challenges after the death of Walker midway through production. The studio had to shift the film's release date from summer 2014 to earlier this month. To complete Walker's remaining scenes, the filmmakers used computer effects and Walker's brothers Caleb and Cody as stand-ins.

A strong fan base for the franchise, coupled with moviegoer interest in how Walker's role was handled, has helped keep momentum for the film going. 

Of the newcomers, "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" will likely come in second. Some predict the film, which is being released by Sony Pictures, will gross in the mid-to-high teens while others project it could debut to up to $30 million.

Six years after "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," Kevin James reprises his role as the funny security guard. This time, the Andy Fickman-directed film follows Blart while on vacation with his family in Las Vegas. It costars Shirley Knight, Raini Rodriguez and Neal McDonough. 

The PG-rated film, which cost about $30 million to make, will likely draw in families and younger audiences.

By comparison, the first film was an unexpected breakout hit after it opened with a solid $39.2 million over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in 2009. Its three-day haul was $31.8 million.

"Unfriended," Universal Pictures' latest micro-budget collaboration with Blumhouse Productions, will likely open to about $10 million, though some say it could exceed expectations and pull in up to $20 million.

The cyberbullying film, which cost just $1 million to make, follows a teenager as she and her friends are stalked by an unseen figure. 

It has already generated buzz on social media. It scored a 88% positive "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It also has a large online following of about 1 million people on Facebook and 43,000 on Twitter. Tracking suggests younger audiences are showing the strongest interest in the film.

"Monkey Kingdom," a nature documentary being released by Disneynature, follows a family of monkeys living in Sri Lanka. The film, narrated by Tina Fey, is expected to open with $5 million to $10 million.

Nicholas Sparks' adaptation "The Longest Ride" and DreamWorks Animation's "Home" will likely hold over in the top five.

Meanwhile, in limited release, Lionsgate/Summit's "Child 44" will launch in about 500 theaters domestically. The thriller, which stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace, was produced by Ridley Scott and is based on a best-seller by Tom Rob Smith.

Fox Searchlight will also release the drama "True Story," which stars Jonah Hill and James Franco, in about 550 theaters.

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