Box Office Shocker: 'Devil Inside' Makes $16.9 Mil on Friday, Eyeing Big $30 Mil Weekend

The Devil Inside Fernanda Andrade Hospital - H 2012
Insurge Pictures

The Devil Inside Fernanda Andrade Hospital - H 2012

UPDATED: Paramount's micro-budgeted horror pic, acquired for $1 million, is buoyed by younger moviegoers and headed for record-breaking bow; specialty pic "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" moves up to No. 9.

Paramount's R-rated horror pic The Devil Inside is scaring up massive business at the domestic box office, grossing $16.9 million on Friday for a projected $30 million weekend, likely the top opening ever for early January.

Devil Inside is as polarizing as it is successful. Overall, it received an F CinemaScore on Friday night, although almost as many gave it an A (16 percent) as did an F (19 percent). The majority, or 47 percent, gave it a C and a D. Generally speaking, It's not uncommon for horror titles to get lower CinemaScores.

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Underpinning Devil Inside's strength were younger moviegoers, who have been largely absent from the multiplex. Nearly 60 percent of Friday night's audience were under the age of 25, while 85 percent of the audience was under the age of 34.

Males made up 54 percent of those buying tickets.

Devil Inside will easily take the No. 1 spot from fellow Paramount title Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol domestically. Ghost Protocol, which has stayed atop the box office chart since opening nationwide on Dec. 20, grossed $6.2 million on Friday for a hearty domestic cume of $155.9 million.

Ghost Protocol is expected to earn $19 million for the weekend, putting its domestic gross at nearly $170 million.

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The weekend is likely to be up as much as 18 percent over last year in welcome news for the film business, which saw movie attendance tumble to a 16-year low in 2011.

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 as it expanded from 57 theaters to 809 locations, grossing an estimated $1.7 million for a cume of $6.4 million. The espionage pic, starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy, should hit $10 million through Sunday.

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 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. 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.

Early January is a popular landing spot for genre fare; in 2009, The Unborn opened to $19.8 million, while Daybreakers opened to $15.1 million in 2010.

Devil Inside is the only new wide release of the weekend.