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“Paranormal” still active one year later

Paranormal Activity 2 easily won the weekend with little competition from Hereafter, which expanded after limited release last week. The sequel to 2009’s low budget smash freaked $41 million out of audiences. Midnight showings were extremely popular considering the timeframe and genre. Thursday night’s tally was $6.3 million, a record for an R-rated film.

Studios put more money into the sequel, albeit not by much. While the first movie barely cost the price of a small car, Paramount dropped $3 million on the successor. Hereafter came in thereafter with $12 million. That was merely enough for fourth place, but neither Clint Eastwood, as a director, or Matt Damon as a star tend to open big (discounting “Bourne” movies). Eastwood’s newest picture did manage one of his best wide opening weekend’s in recent years and beat the Angelina Jolie starrer Changeling ($9.3 million) and Invictus ($8.6 million), but not anywhere close to Gran Torino ($29.4 million).

On the back of its stars’ paychecks and a grand action sequence, Hereafter was produced for around $50 million. The backers should have taken a page from Johnny Knoxville’s book. Jackass 3-D cost a measly $20 million and added $21 million in its second weekend alone. To date, the gross out series entry has $87 million in the bank. Red got closer to paying off its debt. The movie racked up another $15 million placing its total tally at $43 million.

My Soul to Take 3D and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps were the two casualties to drop off the charts. All other holdovers did typical business dropping merely a spot in the same order. Currently Easy A clings to the number ten spot with $54 million to its bottom line.

The Top Ten

  1. 1. Paranormal Activity 2 – $41.5M (weekend)…$41.5M (gross)
  2. 2. Jackass 3-D – $21.6M…$87.1M
  3. 3. Red – $15.0M…$43.4M
  4. 4. Hereafter – $12.0M…$12.0M
  5. 5. The Social Network – $7.3M…$72.9M
  6. 6. Secretariat – $6.9M…$37.3M
  7. 7. Life As We Know It – $6.1M …$37.6M
  8. 8. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole – $3.1M…$50.1M
  9. 9. The Town – $2.7M…$84.6M
  10. 10. Easy A – $1.7M …$54.7M

It’s nearing Halloween, so it must be time for Saw 3D. Love it or hate it, and people usually fall to the extreme of either category, the Saw franchise is releasing another sequel. Unlike most I dearly love this long running torture horror series. The allegedly final film, the seventh in a line of twisted flicks, was shot with the added 3D medium after Saw VI suffered at the box office due to competition with Paranormal Activity. Seeing the success The Final Destination had using the technology to revive its horror series gave Lionsgate the idea “Saw VII” would benefit from layered blood splatter. They also made a critical decision to push the release date back a week to avoid Paranormal Activity 2.

Up until last year, a “Saw” film has dominated the late October timeslot for five years. The original thriller cost only $1.1 million to make and grossed $103 million worldwide. Saw II and Saw III both broke $150 million total while Saw IV dipped to $139 million. No movie cost more than $11 million to create, an incentive to keep producing film after film. Saw V was the most universally panned of the group, considered a stinker by loyal “Saw” fans. It took in $113 million but Saw VI suffered at only $64 million. With such a poor showing, the suits decided on a grand finale.

Of course, curtains never close on a breadwinner in Hollywood. If this swan song grabs between $20 and $30 million opening weekend and snatches the number one spot from Paranormal Activity 2 we will surely see a “Saw VIII” or a spinoff next year. Marketing has not offered up a story- a fatal mistake for most films. Yet, people watch “Saw” for the traps and twists so this major goof might have minor consequences. Jigsaw’s infamous traps come alive in 2700 theaters Friday October 29, 2010.

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