Box Office Report: 'Paranormal Activity 3' Collects a Franchise Best $8 Million in Midnight Shows

"Paranormal Activity 3"

UPDATED: The threequel is restoring life to the domestic box office, and will match or better last year's $40.7 million opening of "Paranormal 2"; Paul W.S. Anderson's 3D action-adventure "The Three Musketeers" and "Johnny English Reborn" soft in U.S.

Paramount's Halloween horror pic Paranormal Activity 3 grossed a stellar $8 million in Thursday midnight grosses and could earn a total of $20 million in its first 24 hours, if Friday night business stays strong.

That would put the threequel on course to match or better the $40.7 million opening of last year's Paranormal Activity 2. If so, it would be the best opening since early August, when Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes debuted to $54.6 million. The midnight earnings alone for Paranormal 3 were 30% higher than the $6.3 million grossed by Paranormal 2.

The weekend's three other new wide entries got off to a soft start on Friday, as expected.

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 $4 million on Friday, while Universal's Rowan Atkinson action-comedy Johnny English Reborn is projected to gross just north of $1 million for the day. The good news--both films, and particularly Johnny English, are big hits overseas.

Women's basketball pic Might Macs, distributed by Freestyle Releasing, may not reach $500,000 on Friday.

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, produced by Jason Blum, Oren Peli and Steven Schneider, 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.