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Paranormal Activity Passes $100 Million Mark

by Anne Thompson
November 13, 2009 2:04 AM
2 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

As Paranormal Activity passes the $100 million mark, Paramount Pictures is celebrating a huge profit on a tiny investment. While the original budget figure is $15,000, the studio spent quite a bit more than that on sprucing up the movie, prints and about $10 million in marketing. After only five weekends of national release as of Friday, the movie is now the top-grossing R-rated thriller of the decade.

Several studio marketing execs agree that Paramount's online marketing team took advantage of the perfect scenario--a horrific mock-documentary that was creepily realistic. But some caution that this is a one-time shot. They think the movie capitalized on audiences responding to a Blair Witch-style "it's true, it's real" phenomenon. I'd argue that the marketing cannily built on audience reaction to the movie being actually scary. "Tweet your scream" worked for Paranormal Activity, but similar campaigns activating moviegoers could also work on other films--as long as word-of-mouth was strong. It could save the studios millions. Why not build up to $100 million for a targeted $10 million instead of the usual wide release blast campaign? Again, an original believable psychological horror tale scored with moviegoers far more than a tired Saw VI which limped away from theaters and topped out at $26 million.

IM Global's Stuart Ford has been trying to sell North American rights to writer-director-producer Oren Peli's next film, Area 51, which is budgeted at $5 million and is already filming with another cast of unknowns. While Paramount and several other studios show no interest, Ford says a deal is in the offing.

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2 Comments

  • Jennifer | November 15, 2009 1:53 AMReply

    Another movie that is coming out that offers a clean alternative is ‘’Paranormal.’’ Below is some additional information about this new thriller!!

    Paranormal, the latest supernatural thriller from Cross Shadow Productions, (the
    creators of the Dove.org approved, best-selling BMG releases: Pray and Pray 2:
    The Woods) will be available in stores nationwide January 26th 2010. The 2009 Mrs. America is starring in it.

    See more information and trailers at:
    www.ParanormalTheMovie.com

    Following the success of family-friendly suspense/thriller The Exorcism of Emily
    Rose (Sony Pictures), comes a riveting supernatural thriller in the vein of the hit
    SyFy television series, Ghost Hunters and Frank Peretti's House (Roadside
    Attractions / Lionsgate).

    Paranormal follows best-selling, self-made novelist Greg Evans struggling through the worst case of writer's block in his award-winning career. In a desperate search for
    inspiration, Greg quickly finds himself immersed in a world he is not prepared to face.
    Turning to a group of paranormal investigators, Greg and the ghost hunting team search for proof and answers, yet are unaware they are about to have an experience of a
    lifetime! None will leave the way they came. Paranormal will peel back the supernatural curtain to reveal how The TRUTH will EXPOSE the darkness!

  • Alan Green | November 13, 2009 1:33 AMReply

    when you watch characters evolve as they cope with plot points, and you care what happens to them, you have story. the characters in saw do not cope with plot events, they succumb to them. nobody cares about them and the gimmick of helpless people being tortured has gone stale.

    people care about the characters in PA. if they didn't it wouldn't be scary. you can't be scared and apathetic at the same time. PA has story, saw is a gimmicky retread.

    the fake documentary will become a gimmick, probably with area 51. it's already been done a couple times -- cloverfield, blair witch, PA, maybe others. however, if your 'gimmick' is to start with a good story populated by characters we care about you'll do okay no matter what style you shoot in

    hollywood can repeat the success of PA. they need a good script (with story), a micro budget, and real-time internet marketing. if the movie doesn't get traction move on to the next one. get in the habit of only producing good scripts (for a budget you can afford to lose). the ones that succeed will pay for the others.

    this is the same basic formula we have now, except, now, we spend tens of millions in production then follow that up with an expensive ad campaign designed to convince the public by brute force they should care about the characters and plot we've created. the successes do not pay for the failures because too much money is spent on movies that aren't even vaguely commercial.

    do the reverse. start with a good story, market the movie making process in real time via blogs, social sites, etc, see if people care before committing to additional marketing, then roll out your picture accordingly

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