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In a boost for the domestic box office, Paramount’s horror pic The Devil Inside opened to a record-breaking $34.5 million, helping to drive up theatrical revenues by more than 25 percent over last year.
The R-rated movie — acquired by Paramount for only $1 million — scored the best opening ever for early January, and the third biggest for the month after fellow Paramount title Cloverfield ($40.1 million) and George Lucas‘ 1997 reissue of Star Wars ($35.9 million). Those two films were released in late January.
The Devil Inside is as polarizing as it is successful. Overall, it received an F CinemaScore on Friday night. The overall CinemaScore report showed the film receiving either an F or a D- across all demos.
Underpinning The Devil Inside‘s strength were younger moviegoers, who have been largely absent from the multiplex. Nearly 60 percent of Friday night’s audience was under the age of 25, and 85 percent of the audience was under the age of 34.
Males made up 54 percent of the audience.
Paramount president of domestic marketing and distribution Megan Colligan said the campaign for Devil Inside focused on making the film seem real, as evidenced by the slogan “The film the Vatican doesn’t want you to see.” And on Christmas Eve, the studio released an online trailer that prompted worldwide chatter.
“The campaign was very scary, and it was intended to push the envelope,” Colligan said. “The conversation online became very robust.”
The Devil Inside took the No. 1 spot from Paramount title Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, which itself stayed strong.
Ghost Protocol, which had topped the box-office chart since opening nationwide Dec. 20, dipped 30 percent from New Year’s weekend to $20.5 million for a hefty domestic cume of $170.2 milion. Overseas, the movie grossed $27.7 million for the weekend for an international cume of $287.9 million and a worldwide total of $458.1 million.
The Tom Cruise pic, co-financed by Skydance Productions, wasn’t the only holiday title still enjoying good business in North America.
Warner Bros.’ sequel Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows also stayed high up on the box-office chart, falling 33 percent to $14.1 million for a domestic cume of $157.4 million.
David Fincher‘s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo made news for Sony, sporting the best hold of any film in wide release and falling only 24 percent to $11.3 million for a domestic cume of $76.8 million. Dragon Tattoo continued its rollout overseas, grossing $12 million from 33 territories for an international total of $29.3 million and a world cume of $106.1 million.
Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked grossed $9.5 million for a domestic cume of $111.6 million. Internationally, the 3D family film enjoyed its strongest weekend yet, grossing $30.1 million from 62 markets for a foreign total of $128.4 million and a world haul of $240 million.
DreamWorks and Disney’s War Horse, from Steven Spielberg, grew its domestic cume to $64.4 million, followed by Cameron Crowe‘s We Bought a Zoo with $56.4 million. War Horse has opened only in four international markets, grossing $7.6 million to date for a world total of $64.4 million. Zoo has earned $2.6 million internationally from 14 markets for a world total of $69.9 million.
Spielberg‘s second holiday film, The Adventures of Tintin, from Paramount and Sony, has jumped the $300 million mark worldwide. It’s earned $61.9 million domestically and a hefty $271.8 million overseas for a total of $333.7 million.
Making news at the awards box office on Friday was Focus Features and Working Title’s arthouse hit Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which came in No. 9 for the weekend as it expanded from 57 theaters to 809 locations, grossing an estimated $5.8 million for a domestic cume of $10.4 million.
Tinker Tailor flourished in surburban markets — a theater in the surburbs north of Oklahama City was No. 5 in the country — as well as continuing to thrive in holdover art house locations.
The Devil Inside, which is being released via Paramount’s micro-budgeted Insurge label, was acquired by the studio for a mere $1 million. Insurge was launched after the phenomenal success of another low-budget Paramount horror film, Paranormal Activity.
Heading into the weekend, Paramount indicated that The Devil Inside would open in the $8 million to $10 million range, but that number was revised upward in light of the film’s midnight performance Thursday night, followed by strong Friday business. The Devil Inside earned $2 million in its midnight runs.
Directed and co-written by William Brent Bell, the documentary-style Devil Inside is about a woman who becomes involved in a series of exorcisms after her own mother was supposedly possessed, killing three people. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Steven Schneider, a producer on the Paranormal Activity franchise, brought the project to Paramount.
The Devil Inside was the only new wide release of the weekend.
Domestic Box Office Jan. 6-Jan. 8
Title/Weeks in Release/Studio/Theater Count/Three Day Weekend Total/Cume
1. The Devil Inside (1) Paramount/2,205, $34.5 million
2. Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (4), Paramount/3,555, $20.5 million, $170.2 million
3. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (4), Warner Bros./3,603, $14.1 million, $157.4 million
4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (3), Sony/2950, $11.4 million, $76.8 million
5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (4), 20th Century Fox/3,425, $9.5 million, $111.6 million
6. War Horse (3), DreamWorks/Disney/2,783, $8.6 million, $56.8 million
7. We Bought a Zoo (3), Fox/3,170, $8.5million, $56.4 million
8. The Adventures of Tintin (3), Paramount, Sony/3,006, $6.6 million, $61.9 million
9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (5), Focus Features/809, $5.8 million, $10.4 million
10. New Year’s Eve (5), Warner Bros./New Line/1,864, $3.3 million, $52 million
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