In an early Halloween present for Paramount, Paranormal Activity 3 is on track to earn $25 million at the Friday box office for a whopping weekend gross of as much as $45 million to $50 million — by far the best launch in almost four months at the domestic box office.
It’s rare for 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, as well as Paramount’s marketing acumen. A year ago, Paranormal Activity 2 opened to $40.7 million.
Paranormal 3, a prequel, looks to score the best domestic opening since Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes in early August. That pic earned $54.5 million in its first weekend.
Friday’s $25 million estimate for Paranormal 3 includes $8 million in midnight shows, which were 30% higher than the $6.3 million grossed by Paranormal 2.
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 weekend’s two other new wide entries got off to a soft start on Friday, 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, may not reach $3.5 million on Friday for a $10 million or so weekend opening (it was in a close race Friday with Paramount’s Footloose for No. 2).
Universal’s Rowan Atkinson action-comedy Johnny English Reborn is projected to gross just north of $1 million for the day, and shy of $4 million for the weekend. The good news–both films, and particularly Johnny English, are big hits overseas.
Johnny English Reborn is a runaway hit internationally, and is poised to jump the $100 million mark this weekend, despite the tepid U.S. launch. It’s opened No. 1 in almost all of the 43 foreign markets where it’s been released and goes out in six additional territories this weekend, including France.
Paranormal 3 also is off to a strong start overseas, where it’s outpacing Paranormal 2 as well. The movie opened to $521K in France on Thursday, 13 pecent of Paranormal 2. In Russia, the $550K opening waas 45 percent higher than the sequel, while Australia turned in $516K, 14 percent ahead.
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 threequel’s budget is pegged at $5 million.