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Paramount’s R-rated horror pic The Devil Inside scared up a strong $2 million in Thursday midnight grosses from roughly 1,400 theaters.
The film moves into a total of 2,300 theaters on Friday and is the first nationwide release of 2012.
Devil Inside, which is being released via Paramount’s micro-budgeted Insurge label, was acquired by the studio for only $1 million. Insurge was launched after the phenomenal success of another low-budget 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 has been revised upward in light of the film’s midnight performance. But even if it grosses in the mid teens, it may not be enough to topple Paramount’s Tom Cruise holiday hit Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol.
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. However, that was before the downturn in moviegoing.
Devil Inside is the only new wide release of the weekend.
At the awards box office, the news will be Focus Features and Working Title’s arthouse hit Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which makes a major push in expanding from 57 theaters to more than 800 as awards season heats up. The espionage pic, starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy, has earned $4.5 million to date domestically.
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