"Paranormal Activity 3" Scares, Slays Box Office Competition

Racks up $54 million in debut

By Edward B. Colby
|  Sunday, Oct 23, 2011  |  Updated 9:48 PM CDT
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    Halloween started a bit early at movie theaters this weekend, as “Paranormal Activity 3” killed the competition with a $54 million opening.

    That is both the best debut for a horror movie and the best first weekend in October for any kind of film, The Hollywood Reporter said.

    The “3” is deceiving, as the latest entry in Paramount Pictures’ super-low-budget frightening franchise actually tells how the unusual activity began, thanks to “discovered” home video footage from 1988, The Associated Press notes.

    It’s also super-profitable, as the new movie cost just $5 million to make. Beyond its gross in American and Canadian theaters, “Paranormal Activity 3” also took in $26 million in its overseas rollout this weekend.

    The 2009 original cost $15,000 and grossed $193.4 million worldwide, and the 2010 sequel cost $3 million and generated $177.5 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

    The new film, in which two young sisters “befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home,” was graded a lackluster “C+” on CinemaScore – but moviegoers marching en masse to see it didn’t seem to much care.

    Paramount executive Don Harris said “Paramount Activity 3” was actually helped by strong reviews, including one from Time magazine, and that it did so well because it’s the best movie of the series.

    "Ultimately, it gets back to why there's still a theatrical business, why people still go to the movies," he told the AP. "We want to laugh in a group, we want to be scared in a group, people like to cry in a group in the dark where nobody can see them crying.”

    “Paranormal Activity 3” knocked the boffo boxers of “Real Steel” from their two-week perch atop the box office. The Hugh Jackman flick came in second this time with $11.3 million, for a total of $67.2 million.

    The “Footloose” remake was again close on its heels, placing third with $10.9 million, for a two-week total of $30.9 million.

    New release “The Three Musketeers” opened softly in fourth with $8.8 million. It was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and stars his wife, Milla Jovovich, who on Friday blasted distributor Summit Entertainment via Twitter for not marketing it as a “fun family film.”

    “I think ‘summit’ have swept '3 Musketeers,' a (great) family adventure film, under the rug in the U.S. Shame on them,” she wrote on Twitter.

    Summit had no comment, EW.com reported.

    Coming in at Nos. 5-7 were three movies that held up well weeks into their box office runs – “The Ides of March” ($4.9 million), “Dolphin Tale” ($4.2 million), and “Moneyball” ($4.1 million).

    The previous records for best horror flick and October movie openings were held by “Paranormal Activity 2” and – you guessed it – “Jackass 3D,” which collected $50.4 million in its initial go-round at this time last year.

    Remarkably, no other horror movies will be coming out next weekend for Halloween, so “Paranormal Activity 3” could very well keep drawing in lots of viewers.

    Or Twitter followers: it has 55,000 at its Twitter handle, @TweetYourScream.

    Selected Reading: Hollywood Reporter, AP, Entertainment Weekly

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