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The Halloween spirit was in full force this weekend as Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 3 opened to a massive $54 million at the domestic box office–the top launch of all time for a horror pic, as well as the best October debut ever.
Paranormal 3 also did sizeable business overseas, where it opened to $26 million for a worldwide total of $80 milion–16 times the film’s $5 million production budget.
In North America, the third installment in the blockbuster franchise took in $10 million more than last year’s Paranormal Activity 2, the previous crownholder for top horror opening.
It’s rare for a a threequel to score bigger numbers than the two preceeding pics, and is a testament to the originality of the Paranormal franchise, produced by Jason Blum, Oren Peli and Steven Schneider on a shoestring budget, as well as Paramount’s marketing acumen. And with no Saw installment this year, Paranormal 3 won’t have any competition over Halloween weekend.
Paramount’s Jackass 3D held the previous title for best October opening ($50.4 million).
Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore said the producers and new Paranormal 3 directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman–the team behind the documentary Catfish–did a great job delivering another hit. He said there’s no Paranormal Activity 4 currently in development, but that “people certainly continue to be very interested in the franchise.”
While Paranormal 3 got fewer younger movieogers than the previous two films, more people in their 30s and 40s turned out, likely influenced by good reviews. Those under the age of 25 represented 47% of those buying tickets, compared to 60 percent for Paranormal 2, and reflecting the ongling flight of younger consumers from the multiplex. Those over the age of 25 represented 47% of the audience, as compared to 40% for the sequel.
The gender breakdown remained the same, with females making up 54 percent of the audience, and males, 46 percent.
Paranormal Activity 3 posted the best opening in nearly four months at the domestic box office, and came close to matching the $54.6 million earned by Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes in early August. But overall domestic box office revenues were still down by 7 percent.
In an unusual twist, Paranormal 3 received a C+ CinemaScore, a grade that doesn’t usually correspond with big grosses, although horror films in general usually draw lower scores.
The Paranormal franchise has been one of the most profitable film series in recent memory. The first Paranormal, which cost $15,000 to produce and opened in a limited run in September 2009, went on to gross $193.4 million worldwide. Paranormal 2 cost $3 million to produce, and grossed $177.5 million worldwide.
The weekend’s two other new wide entries got off to a soft start at the domestic box office, as expected, despite both receiving a B CinemaScore.
Paul W.S. Anderson’s $90 million The Three Musketeers, distributed by Summit Entertainment domestically and produced by Germany’s Constantin Films, grossed $8.8 million to come in No. 4 behind DreamWorks and Disney’s Real Steel and Paramount’s Footloose. The big-budget action-adventure is doing somewhat better overseas, where it has grossed north of $50 million. Constantin financed the pic, while Summit International sold foreign rights.
Milla Jovovich, who stars in Three Musketeers along with Orlando Bloom, took to twitter this weekend blasting Summit for not properly marketing the action-adventure as a family film (she’s also married to Anderson).
Summit didn’t immediately have an official response.
According to exit data, 64% of those going to see Three Musketeers in its domestic debut were over the age of 25, while the audience was divided evenly between females and males.
Universal’s Rowan Atkinson action-comedy Johnny English Reborn grossed only $3.8 million in its North American debut, with 22 percent of the earnings coming from Canada (on average, Canada contributes 8 percent of a film’s total North American debut). The sequel came in far short of the $9 million opening of the first Johnny English, but did show signs of playing like a family film, with parents making up 35% of the audience.
The good news: The British film is a runaway hit internationlly, where it has now grossed $104.5 million, and Universal was fully prepared tepid domestic numbers.
Among holdovers, Footloose held well in its second weekend, falling 35 percent to an estimated $10.9 million for a cume of $30.7 million.
Sony’s award contenders The Ides of March and Moneyball posted strong holds as well. Ides of March placed No. 5 in its third weekend, falling 31% to an estimated $4.9 million for cume of $29.2. Moneyball placed No. 7 in its fifth frame, grossing $4.1 million for a hearty cume of $63.7 million.
At the specialty box office, Fox Searchlight’s Martha Marcy May Marlene enjoyed one of the best platform launches of the year, grossing $137,541 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for the top location average of the weekend, $34,385.
Sean Durkin directed the film, which stars Elizabeth Olson and earned several top Gotham Award nominations last weekend.
“This is a great start from a first time writer-director and a new and upcomin star. It’s a breakthrough standout performance by Elizabeth Olsen, and we are happy to see such terrific results,” Searchlight executive vice president of distribution Sheila DeLoach said.
Roadside Attractions saw good results for J.C. Chandor’s ensemble financial thriller Margin Call, which grossed $582,400 from 56 theaters in the top 20 markets for a location average of $10,400. The film, with a cast led by Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Zachary Quinto, simultaneously debuted on VOD, although results won’t be released for another week.
“Clearly we had the zeitgeist in our favor with Wall Street in teh news as a result of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which helped land the film on the cable news networks in addition to the traditional entertainment talkshows,” Roadside co-president Howard Cohen said. “We broke the house record at the new Elinor Bunin Film Center in New York with a weekend gross that is estimated at $32,750 and we had sellouts in many of our top theaters.
Top 10 Domestic Box Office 10/21-10/23
Title/Weeks in Release/Studio/Theater Count/Weekend Total/Cume
1. Paranormal Activity 3 (1), Paramount/,3321, $54 million
2. Real Steel (3), DreamWorks/Disney/3,412, /$11.3 million, $67.2 million
3. Footloose (2), Paramount/3555, $10.9 milion, $30.9 million
4. The Three Musketeers (1), Summit/3,017, $8.8 million
5. The Ides of March (3) Sony/Cold Creek/2,042, $4.9 million, $29.2 million
6. Dolphin Tale (5) Warner Bros./Alcon/2,828, $4.2 million, $64.6 million
7. Moneyball (5), Sony/2,353, $4.1 million, $63.7 million
8. Johnny English Reborn (1), Universal/1,552, $3.8 million
9. The Thing (2), Universal/2,995, $3.1 million, $14.1 million
10. 50/50 (4), Summit/Mandate/1,932, $2.8 million, $28.8 million
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