Thompson on Hollywood

Horror prequel Paranormal Activity 3 easily frightened off all comers on this World Series weekend with a mighty $54 million take. Charles Lyons reports.

Paramount spooked the box-office for an estimated $54 million, with its micro-budget-turned-macro-franchise, Paranormal Activity 3 (72% Tomatometer), slashing competition for the weekend crown, while incredulously becoming the biggest horror opening in history.

The victory, which breathes life into a limp fall box-office, also brings Paramount the highest October opening ever, ahead of its own Jackass 3D.

With 60% of its audience under 25 years old, the $5-million film achieved its para-spectacular opening with a marathon-sized $26.2 million for Friday night and $8 million from midnight screenings alone. That catapulted the slash fest past Hugh Jackman-starrer, Real Steel, which held the top box-office spot for the past two weekends. Costing only $5 million, far more than the 2009 digital original's $15,000. 80s prequel Paranormal Activity 3 is easily in profit. Last week Paramount mounted global fan preview screenings, including the ArcLight in Hollywood. The movie opens all over the world this weekend.

Paramount’s previous installments of its Blair Witch Project-style, voyeuristic-video franchise, which premiered at Slamdance in 2008, reaped $40.7 million in its same-frame opening last October, on its way to a $177-million worldwide gross. The first installment freakishly unspooled in limited release to sneak off with $107 million worldwide.

Disney/ DreamWorks’ Hugh Jackson actioner, Real Steel, continued real solid, with another scant drop, 30.5%, muscling into second place and $11.3 million; its domestic cume is $62.2 million, with its global cume at $153.3.

Other new releases continued a scary trend, that is, to fail to generate much interest despite their supposed built-in audiences. Leading the new relatively still-born pack was Summit pick-up of Constantin Film's The Three Musketeers 3D (28% Tomatometer), starring Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom and Christopher Waltz, with an underwhelming $8.8 million, despite launching in 3,017 theaters. The 3-D take on the Alexandre Dumas classic didn't come near its projected opening of $13 million.

Working Title's British spy spoof Johnny English Reborn (29% Tomatometer), starring Rowan Atkinson, which played over 1,500 domestic theaters, failed to live up to its title, at least stateside, with a sluggish $3.8 million, far less than its projected $7 million. However, both films are fairing considerably better abroad: Johnny has taken $104.5 from 44 territories since its September launch, and, while Musketeers’ international cumes for this weekend were unavailable at press time, the film had already done $49 million overseas since its opening last month.

Expanding slightly to 3,555 theaters, Paramount’s Footloose danced better than might have been expected, with $10.8 million in its second week, for a meager 32% drop, bringing its total to $30.8 million.

Sony’s duo of Oscar hopefuls, The Ides of March and Moneyball managed 5th and 7th place, with $4.9 and $4 million, respectively, both again with marginal drops.

In Indiewood, in just four theaters, Fox Searchlight's evocative thriller, Martha Marcy May Marlene (86% Tomatometer), which won its writer/director Sean Durkin this year’s Best Director Award at Sundance and Cannes’ Prix de la Jeunesse, found an industry-high $34,385 per screen average. It expands to 10 cities and 31 theaters next week. IndieWIRE's weekend box office report is here.

Roadside Attractions’s Margin Call (85% Tomatometer), dialed into 56 theaters, scoring $582, 400 and a healthy per screen average of $10,400. In New York, it set the house record at the new Eleanor Bunin Film Center with an estimated $32,750.    

Top Ten Box Office Chart:

1. Paranormal Activity 3 (Paramount) $54 million at 3,321 theaters, $16,266 theater average. Domestic total: $54 million.

2. Real Steel (Disney/DreamWorks) $11.3 million down 28% in its third weekend at 3,412 theaters, $3,317 theater average. Domestic total: $67.2 million.

3. Footloose (Paramount) $10.8 million down 32% in its second weekend at 3,555 theaters, $3,037 theater average. Domestic total: $30.8 million.

4. The Three Musketeers (Summit) $8.8 million at 3,017 theaters, $2, 917 theater average. Domestic total: $8.8 million.

5. The Ides of March (Sony) $4.9 million down 34% in its third weekend at 2,042 theaters, $2,399 theater average. Domestic total: $29.1 million. 

6. Dolphin Tale (Warner Bros./Alcon) $4.2 million down 33% in its fifth weekend at 2,858 theaters. $1,470 theater average. Domestic total: $62.3 million.

7. Moneyball (Sony) $4 million down 25% in its fifth weekend at 2,353 theaters. $1,699 theater average. Domestic total: $63.7 million.

8. Johnny English Reborn (Universal) $3.8 million at 1,552 theaters, $2,450 theater average. Domestic total: $3.8 million.

9. The Thing (Universal) $3.1 million down 63% in its second weekend at 2,995 theaters, $1,140 theater average. Domestic total: $14.1 million. 

10. 50/50 (Summit) $2.8 million down 34% in its fourth weekend at 1,932 theaters. $1,465 theater average. Domestic total: $28.8 million.