Kevin James, the star of TV's King Of Queens and a familiar supporting player in comedy features, confirmed his place in the big league as his first lead role in Sony's Paul Blart: Mall Cop stayed top in its second weekend, grossing an estimated $21.5m for an impressive $64.8m after two weekends.

Sony's stablemate, the fantasy prequel Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans, released through Screen Gems, opened well in second place on $20.7m and stars Michael Sheen, Rhona Mitra and Bill Nighy.

Warner Bros' drama Gran Torino, snubbed in last week's Oscar nominations, slipped one place to third on $16m for $97.6m and is on course to overtake In The Line Of Fire's $102.3m final tally to become Clint Eastwood's biggest North American hit.

Fox Searchlight's Slumdog Millionaire stormed up the charts and is riding high following its four Golden Globes, ten Academy Award nominations and top theatrical honours from the Producers Guild Of America on Saturday night. The film climbed five places on $10.6m for $55.9m in its 11th week in release and is nominated for the best ensemble cast category in Sunday Screen Actors Guild awards.

Warner Bros' fantasy adventure Inkheart starring Brendan Fraser and Helen Mirren launched in seventh place on $7.7m. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, released through Paramount in North America, re-entered the top ten in its fifth week thanks to those 13 Oscar nominations and ranks ninth on $6m for a highly impressive $111m running total.

Elsewhere, Paramount Vantage's wartime drama Defiance dropped three places to 11th on $5.4m for $18.3m in its fourth weekend; Paramount Vantage's Revolutionary Road climbed five to 12th after adding 887 theatres to 1,058 and grossed $5.3m for $11.9m in its fifth; Fox Searchlight's The Wrestler almost quadrupled its presence to approximately 570 and climbed five to 14th on $3.7m for $9.5m in its sixth weekend; and Universal's Frost/Nixon boosted its count from just over 100 to 1,099 and soared ten places to 15th on $3m for $12m after eight weeks in release.

Next weekend's wide releases are: Fox's kidnapping thriller Taken starring Liam Neeson; Lionsgate's romantic comedy New In Town (formerly Chilled In Miami) with Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr; and DreamWorks-Paramount's horror remake The Uninvited based on South Korean hit A Tale Of Two Sisters.

Estimated Top 10 North America Jan 23-25, 2009
Film (Dist)/Int'l dist/Est wkd gross/Est total to date

1 (1) Paul Blart: Mall Cop (Sony) SPRI $21.5m $64.8m
2 (-) Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans (Screen Gems) SPRI $20.7m -
3 (2) Gran Torino (Warner Bros) WBPI/Village Roadshow $16m $97.6m
4 (5) Hotel For Dogs (DreamWorks-Paramount) PPI $12.4m $36.9m
5 (10) Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) Fox Int'l $10.6m $55.9m
6 (3) My Bloody Valentine 3-D (Lionsgate) Mandate Int'l $10.1m $37.7m
7 (-) Inkheart (Warner Bros) NLI $7.7m -
8 (6) Bride Wars (Fox) Fox Int'l $7m $48.7m
9 (11) The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (Paramount) WBPI $6m $111m
10 (4) Notorious (Fox Searchlight) Fox Int'l $5.7m $31.8m