Wonderwall

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" wasn't ready to turn over

his box-office badge this weekend as the film about a bumbling shopping center

security guard earned $21.5 million to nab No. 1 for a second week in a row.

The comedy, starring Kevin James as the guard who tries to protect the mall where

he works from criminals, has now grossed $64.8 million in its two weeks of

release and appears on its way to surpass $100 million.

"It's just a very funny film," said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide

distribution for Sony. "It's not only a great family film, it really is a film

that everyone loves."

The third installment of the "Underworld" series fared well in its opening weekend.

"Underworld: Rise of the Lycans," a prequel that looks at the roots of a feud

between vampires and werewolves, made $20.7 million. Its two predecessors

"Underworld" and "Underworld: Evolution" earned $21.7 million and $26.8

million, respectively, in their opening weekends.

The fantasy adventure "Inkheart" was unable to cast a spell over

movie-goers, earning only $7.7 million in its debut. The movie, taken from the

best-selling novel by Cornelia Funke, features Brendan Fraser playing a bookbinder with the ability to read

characters right out of books and into real life.

"Unfortunately, families didn't come out in larger numbers," said Jeff

Goldstein, Warner Bros.' executive vice president of distribution.

Films that received Academy Award nominations this past week had a strong

showing at the box office as studios expanded their release.

"Slumdog Millionaire," the drama about a game-show contestant

from the slums of Mumbai, earned $10.6 million this weekend as the movie

appeared in more than 1,400 theaters. Studio executives said the film, which has

now made nearly $56 million, has been boosted by its recent haul of awards,

including top honors from the Producers Guild of America on Saturday.

"I think the word of mouth has been very strong since we opened in November,

but with the Golden Globes and the Academy Award nominations as well as

the PGA, it's the must-see movie before the Academy Awards in February," said

Sheila DeLoach, senior vice president of distribution at Fox Searchlight.

Get all your Oscar coverage on MSN.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" re-entered

the Top 10, earning $6 million to boost its total to $111 million. The film,

starring Brad Pitt as a man aging backward toward infancy, landed 13

Oscar nominations, including best actor for Pitt. "The Wrestler" and "Frost/Nixon" also drew big crowds this weekend.

"This group has gotten the biggest (Oscar) bump collectively that I've ever

seen," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office tracker Media by

Numbers. "This lays to rest the argument that Oscar nominations can't help out

your box-office numbers."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian

theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released

Monday.

1. "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," $21.5 million.

2. "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans," $20.7 million.

3. "Gran Torino," $16 million.

4. "Hotel for Dogs," $12.4 million.

5. "Slumdog Millionaire," $10.6 million.

6. "My Bloody Valentine 3-D," $10.1 million.

7. "Inkheart," $7.7 million.

8. "Bride Wars," $7 million.

9. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," $6 million.

10. "Notorious," $5.7 million.

Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Rogue Pictures are owned by NBC

Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and

Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; DreamWorks, Paramount and

Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt

Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox

Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros., New

Line, Warner Independent and Picturehouse are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is

owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony

Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group;

Lionsgate is owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by

Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems

Corp.