'Paranormal Activity 2' Likely to Scare Up $18-22 Million at Box Office

VIDEO: Paramount prequel's primary competition for No. 1 spot is studio's holdover "Jackass 3D."

Box-office expectations have levitated for the second installment in Paramount's low-budget Paranormal Activity franchise.

Production costs on Paranormal Activity 2 also rose from the $15,000 in pocket change and candy wrappers spent to produce its predecessor. Paramount shelled out a whopping $1 million-plus to produce the prequel to last year's sleeper hit that grossed $108 million.

Unspooling in more than 3,000 domestic locations, Paranormal 2 looks likely to conjure $18 million-$22 million through Sunday. That should be plenty to justify marketing costs of $25 million or so, with foreign grosses and ancillary revenue also likely to be substantial.

Like the original, the R-rated prequel is expected to play mostly to younger crowds and skew a bit female. Unlike the first pic, Paranormal 2 is expected to do most of its business during its opening weekend, which will be padded by screenings at midnight Thursday in most locations.

"You have to go after it like a regular movie and build your marketing on that basis," Paramount executive vp distribution Don Harris said. "So I think it's mostly about the opening weekend."

Paranormal Activity creeped into the marketplace with just $77,873 from 12 theaters during its low-profile launch in September 2009. Within three weeks of that Internet-hyped limited bow, the micro-budgeted franchise-starter had widened to 760 theaters and $33 million in cumulative coin amid broadening buzz among more mainstream moviegoers.

The first Paranormal also copped $85.4 million in foreign lucre. Paranormal 2 bows this week in 21 international territories.

As for whether it can open at No. 1, its main competition is a holdover from ... Paramount.

In fact, perhaps this weekend's most intriguing question among box-office watchers is whether the sophomore-session decline for Paramount's Jackass 3D will prove as remarkably hefty as its surprising $50.4 million bow.

Such youthful and fan-driven movies often drop 65%-70% from their first-frame tallies, and there is little reason to believe the Jackass threequel will escape a similar fate. Paramount's scheduling of the Paranormal 2 opening for this frame suggests that its executives expect a quick burnout by the dangerous-pranks pic; a 70% drop would yield a $15 million frame and prevent Jackass 3D from repeating at No. 1.


Also this weekend, Warner Bros. widens Clint Eastwood's Matt Damon starrer "Hereafter" to 2,181 locations after one session of limited play. The fantasy-tinged drama rang up $220,322 from six theaters, or an auspicious $36,720 per venue.

As usual for Eastwood pics, Hereafter attracted mostly older audiences during its first frame. So in keeping with its established strategy, Warners will attempt to run a successful marathon built on a smattering of critical faves included among mixed-to-positive reviews of the film.

"Clint has a following among people who are interested in film," Warners distribution topper Dan Fellman said.

Damon's fan base should help the PG-13 pic as well.

"I think it's going to have a good opening and legs and will play into the awards season," Fellman said.

Industrywide, this session will be compared with a $116 million weekend last year topped by the $14.1 million bow of Lionsgate's Saw VI. A seventh installment in the slasher franchise, Saw 3D, had been set to hit multiplexes this session until Lionsgate moved it back to next weekend, which features a Halloween Sunday.

Year to date, industry box office is pacing 3% ahead of 2009, at $8.48 billion. But the average ticket price has risen about 5% since a year ago, meaning admissions are in decline.

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