Oct. 25: Tod Williams’ Paranormal Activity 2 earned nearly $1 million less than estimated this past weekend.
The horror thriller took in $40.67 million at North American screens, according to actuals found at Box Office Mojo.
Directed by Jeff Tremaine, and featuring Johnny Knoxville, Jackass 3D grossed $21.31 million at no. 2.
At no. 4, Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, featuring Matt Damon, Cécile De France, and Bryce Dallas Howard, collected $12.01 million.
At no. 6, Diane Lane’s Secretariat drew $7 million.
Next in line were the Katherine Heigl-Josh Duhamel-Josh Lucas comedy Life As We Know It with $6.13 million at no. 7, and Zack Snyder’s Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole with $3.24 million at no. 8.
Rounding out the top twelve were Ben Affleck-Jeremy Renner-Jon Hamm’s The Town with $2.74 million, Emma Stone’s Easy A with $1.74 million, Oliver Stone-Michael Douglas-Shia LaBeouf’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps with $1.24 million, Wes Craven-Max Thieriot’s My Soul to Take with $1.07 million.
Note that Easy A and Money Never Sleeps switched positions once actuals were released.
Among the – mostly quite strong – top-twelve holdovers (not including Hereafter, which went from 6 to 2,181 theaters), Legend of the Guardians posted the lowest weekend-to-weekend drop-off rate, down 23 percent.
Also among the top twelve, Paranormal Activity 2 had by far the highest per-theater average, $12,649 (including late-Thursday screenings), followed by Jackass 3D‘s $6,851 and Hereafter‘s $5,510. My Soul to Take had the lowest, $635.
Oct. 24: Made on a reported $3 million, Tod Williams’ Paranormal Activity 2 far surpassed pundits’ expectations (ranging $25-30 million), taking in an estimated $41.5 million on opening weekend (including $6.3 million from late-night Thursday screenings) in the U.S. and Canada, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
Paranormal Activity 2, which has a mediocre 53 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ “Top Critics,” averaged $12,904 (including Thursday screening) at 3,216 locations.
Looking at Box Office Mojo’s daily chart, Paranormal Activity 2 was down a whopping 35.2 percent on Saturday – but that’s because Friday’s take included the aforementioned $6.3 million from Thursday screenings. Without that extra bonus, Friday and Saturday figures remained steady.
For comparison’s sake: Back in 1999, The Blair Witch Project went wide on its third weekend, grossing $29.2 million at 1,101 theaters, averaging $26,528 per venue. In 2010 dollars, that would translate into approximately $45.6 million and $41,515 per theater.
Not adjusted for inflation, Paranormal Activity 2 boasts the fifth ever biggest Fall opening, after four scary-sounding flicks: Jackass 3D, Scary Movie 3, Shark Tale, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
Marketing costs for the Paranormal Activity sequel/prequel have reportedly hovered around $25 million – or more than 8 times the film’s production budget. Money well spent, obviously.
In fact, film distributors/marketers should take courses from the people who sold both Paranormal Activity movies – and Jackass 3D, too, of course.
Tod Williams’ Paranormal Activity 2 is the “supernatural horror movie” with the biggest opening ever in North America, according to Box Office Mojo’s Brandon Gray.
As per studio estimates, the Paranormal Activity sequel took in $20.1 million on Friday (including $6.3 million at Thursday midnight screenings), thus surpassing The Ring Two‘s $14.8 million (unadjusted for inflation) back in 2005. (It’s unclear whether The Ring Two‘s Friday take includes any late-night Thursday screenings.)
Directed by Jeff Tremaine, and featuring Johnny Knoxville, Jackass 3D collected $7.57 million at no. 2. The low-brow comedy has already passed the acclaimed The Social Network at the domestic box office: $73.17 million vs. $67.9 million.
Directed by Jeff Tremaine, and featuring Johnny Knoxville and numerous idiotic stunts, early fall sensation Jackass 3D pulled in another $21.6 million ($6,943 per theater) at no. 2 in North America, as per studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
Despite a seemingly steep 57.4 percent drop – remember, last weekend’s earnings included late-Thursday screenings – the $20 million no-brow comedy has already grossed $87.14 million in ten days. By next Friday, Jackass 3D will in all likelihood have crossed the $100 million milestone.
Down one spot at no. 3, Robert Schwentke’s comedy-actioner Red, starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, and Morgan Freeman, brought in $4.53 million. Cost: $58 million.
Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, which, like Paranormal Activity 2 also deals with death – but in a radically different manner – brought in $4.13 million at 2,181 venues, or a good – but hardly spectacular – $1,896 per theater. Hereafter stars Matt Damon. Cost: 50 million.
I should note that Hereafter has a so-so 64 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics, versus only 51 percent among all of RT’s critics – whose tastes apparently veer more toward Jackass 3D, which garnered a 63 percent approval rating overall (but only 31 percent among RT’s top critics).
For comparison’s sake:
Eastwood’s Invictus, which starred Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman, opened with $8.61 million late last year. The South African-set political/sentimental drama went on to gross only $37.4 million domestically, but a remarkable $84.74 million overseas.
In 2008, Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, collected $9.35 million on its first wide weekend. Changeling eventually took in $35.73 million in North America, in addition to a solid $77.28 million overseas.
Unlike the aforementioned two efforts, Eastwood’s Gran Torino, whose poster featured the star-director holding a weapon about twice his size, did quite well in North America.
Gran Torino collected $29.48 million on its first wide weekend, cuming at $148.09 million domestically in addition to $121.86 million overseas – where, relatively speaking, big guns apparently aren’t as much of a box office magnet.
Warner Bros. should have learned from that. For the American Hereafter poster, Matt Damon should have been pictured holding a mountain-sized bazooka. Tagline: “Damon will dispatch you to the Hereafter.”
I guarantee you that had the WB marketing people had such foresight, this weekend Hereafter would have earned more than Paranormal Activity 2‘s $41.5 million.
Down two spots in fifth place, David Fincher’s The Social Network, featuring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, and Rooney Mara, drew $2.27 million. Cost: $40-50 million.
If the studio’s calculations are correct, then Paranormal Activity 2 has smashed a couple of records (not adjusted for inflation): highest midnight gross for an R-rated film, thus surpassing last year’s Watchmen ($4.6 million), and best October midnight opening – inflation doesn’t play a role here because the previous record holder was Johnny Knoxville’s Jackass 3D, which took in $2.5 million a mere week ago.
Paranormal Activity‘s wide-release opening generated $21.1 million in ticket sales. Paranormal Activity 2 is expected to gross considerably more than that.
The sequel was directed by Tod Williams. Oren Peli wrote and directed the original.
In the preceding paragraph, two horror movies are listed: one at the very top; one at the very bottom. Just a week ago, people were talking about the lack of appeal of horror flicks. But Paranormal Activity 2 has shown that the problem lies not with the genre – or even with the (generally low) quality of the films – but in how they’re marketed.
Matt Damon Hereafter image: Ken Regan / Warner Bros.