By Gabe Toro | The Playlist October 23, 2011 at 4:34AM
Clearly, there are some bonafide ad wizards over at Paramount after this weekend’s $54 million performance by “Paranormal Activity 3.” While the franchise appears to have its share of detractors, with some growing tired of the “found footage” subgenre, this picture carried surprisingly-generous critic notices to the all-time biggest horror film opening of all time (besting, natch, “Paranormal Activity 2”). Despite what looks like a down market, count this debut as one of the most genuinely strong this year.
With only a moderately positive response from audiences who saw the second film (which failed to out-draw its predecessor stateside), Paramount’s projected estimates were less than $40 million, but clearly they underestimated the appeal of this series as well as fans’ hunger for a big ticket event. These “Paranormal Activity” films are communal experiences, moreso than any other horror picture, in that they tap into a very primal voyeuristic instinct. Surprisingly, there’s no movement on a fourth film yet, though it’s probably only a matter of hours, isn’t it?
Because horror is generally a frontloaded genre, this doesn’t necessarily mean “Paranormal Activity 3” is a guarantee to match the first film’s $107 million domestic take, particularly considering the last film dropped nearly 60% in weekend two and kept free-falling hard. But Paramount spends so little on these movies, and they would have been happy with a $54 million total. With the company officially claiming $3-$5 million as the budget for movies two and three, they’re free to spend on marketing. But they held back any promotional material until two months ago, completely ignoring network TV and launching an ad siege on cable to secure a sizeable trend-setting audience. This is mostly a result of shooting the movie quickly and rushing the release, but you can’t ignore such an efficient business strategy.
It’s another photo finish for “Footloose” and “Real Steel” but it looks like the robot boxing picture has bested the dance remake effort. These are strong gams for Paramount’s hoofing remake, suggesting some strong profits for the studio with the top two movies in the nation. “Real Steel,” meanwhile, has benefited from good word of mouth, refusing to fall off the map in weekend three, but Disney knows that this picture will be lucky to do half of what they were expecting. Everyone quietly walks away from this one, but it probably pushes Hugh Jackman to get those adamantium claws back on pronto.
Summit said “En guarde!” with their colorful 3D remake of “The Three Musketeers,” and America loudly said, “No thanks!” All parties involved viewed the American market as an afterthought in this picture’s release, as it should cross $100 million globally within the next few weeks despite these tepid domestic numbers. Summit seems to have a scattershot advertising approach to several of their efforts, and this was no different, emphasizing the over-the-top action and nameless cast. Paul W.S. Anderson has found his niche as a filmmaker with more foreign appeal than domestic, as this will be his fifth straight film to score bigger overseas than in America. Not a huge deal unless you consider the splits: “Resident Evil: Afterlife” only grossed 20% of it’s $296 million take in America.
Speaking of worldwide receipts, guess which movie is about to push past $100 million global this weekend? If you said “Johnny English Reborn,” then yes, we’re as confused as you. The film predictably flopped during this obligatory, “Eh, let’s see what happens” domestic release, but worldwide, the numbers are strong enough to propel this second installment of the “English” series to an eventual $200 million total. The first one topped $160 million globally, with $30 million coming from America. Eight years later, this one should do much bigger business overseas, though the American gross won’t be so robust. When they say comedy doesn’t translate, it goes both ways.
“The Ides Of March” stayed in the top five with an impressive hold, clearly representing the adult option for filmgoers this weekend. The film is performing to expectations, which is to say it played to a very small specific demographic that produces profits as long as budgets are kept down, and guys like George Clooney are willing to work on the cheap. “Dolphin Tale” looks like it’s finishing its run, but the lowest drop in the top ten is from “Moneyball,” which coasted over $60 million in weekend five, a nice total for a film about statistics.
The “Paranormal Activity” audience took a massive bite out of any hope for “The Thing,” which plummeted in weekend two (a 60% drop). Word of mouth was not kind, and everyone involved in this likely takes one step back, career-wise. The film’s failure has absolutely nothing to do with the picture degrading the legacy of John Carpenter, but, y’know, we believe in karma. Meanwhile, people pointed to the “failure” of “50/50” as to the reason why Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “Premium Rush” was pushed to next August. But four weeks after the film's release, it remains in the top ten despite the quietest of buzz, and should cap out at $30 million. Gordon-Levitt, meanwhile, has a 2012 filled with collaborations with Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino. Guy’s doing something right.
In the indie field, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” started strong, grossing $137,541 on four screens for a $34,385 per screen average -- the 10th highest of the year. The film will begin to expand soon, presumably in hopes of bagging its star Elizabeth Olsen a well-deserved Oscar nomination. "Margin Call" had a similarly-solid opening, with $582k on only ten screens, while sports drama "The Mighty Macs" unfortunately only mustered a cool million on 976 screens. Pedro Almodovar's "The Skin I Live In" continues to do well. it's on 21 screens and now has a $569,335 total domestically. $1 million isn't impossible, it's only in its second week of release, but hitting $2 mil, could be a stretch. Almodovar's highest domestic haul is $12 million for "Volver."
"Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" only opened on one screen, but it's hard to ignore the doc's solid $25k debut. It proved stronger than the two-screen release of "Revenge Of The Electric Car" ($18k) and the seven screen showing for "The Last Ride" ($16k). Meanwhile, "The Worst Movie EVER!" continues to soldier on in its sixth week of release. The micro-indie, which has been playing on one screen in Los Angeles, has managed to score an impressive 32% multiplier after it's opening weekend -- by comparison, "Paranormal Activity 2" carried a multiplier only slightly over 2%. This takes the film's total to... $323. Total. Which is as good a time as any to remind you to support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls!
1. “Ghost Documentary” (Paramount) - $54 million
2. Genuine Metal (Disney) - $11.3 million ($67 mil.)
3. Footloose (Paramount) - $10.9 million ($31 mil.)
4. The 3D Musketeers (Summit) - $8.8 million
5. The Ides Of March (Sony) - $4.9 million ($29 mil.)
6. Dolphin Tale (WB) - $4.5 million ($65 mil.)
7. Don’t Listen To Manager Philip Seymour Hoffman (Sony) - $4.1 million ($64 mil.)
8. Johnny English Reborn (Universal) - $3.7 million
9. Totally Not The Thing (Universal) - $3.1 million ($14 mil.)
10. 50/50 (Summit) - $2.8 million ($29 mil.)