Weekend Box Office: Paranormal Activity 3 Sets New Record For Horror Opening

Did you hear something? It wasn’t something that goes bump in the night. It was a round of Paramount execs exchanging fist bumps with the ad team behind the shrewd marketing behind Paranormal Activity 3. Misleading as the ads were, the audience came out in droves and allowed PA3 to have the most successful horror opening of all time. With $54 million in ticket sales, the horror release bettered its closest competitors by as little as $4 million to as much as $14 million (depending on what you qualify has a horror title). Even if the series is long-in-the-tooth and the “found footage” genre has yet to give up the ghost (so to speak), critics seemed willing to give this third installment mostly positive reviews with a RT aggregate score of 80%. This is despite audiences giving it a C+ CinemaScore, clearly a sign they didn’t like being duped by the advertising. Considering how anemic the box office has been, $54 million will remain as one of best opening weekends of 2011.

The final numbers exceeded Paramount’s projected estimates of $40 million – the same opening total of Paranormal Activity 2 – and the total figure will give it the biggest opening weekend for the month of October, unseating last year’s Jackass 3D ($50.3 million). With such a debut plan on a fourth installment to this series to arrive October 19, 2012.

With PA3 safely sitting in the top position, the rest of the field had to contend for second place. It is another close finish for Footloose and Real Steel. But it looks like audiences were up for more robot boxing and less country line dancing. Real Steel bettered the ’80s remake by $500k to nab silver this weekend. Still, Footloose stood up considerably well in its second weekend only losing 30% of its first week audience. Both films are getting good word of mouth from friends and families looking to cut loose at the movies. Unless Real Steel catches fire overseas or on home video, it may be a no go for a sequel.

The hot gossip this weekend was Milla Jovovich condemning studio Summit Entertainment for its handling of The Three Musketeers. The studio showed little interest in marketing the latest Paul W.S. Anderson film which, if you are familiar with his work, is either viewed with disdain or it can be seen as “good bad movies” that better the likes of Michael Bay’s most expensive monstrosities. While Anderson’s steampunk vision of Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale had great chemistry among the three musketeers, critics and audiences could care less. This is despite it being much more enjoyable than the latest Pirates of the Caribbean flick. I mean it had airborne pirate ships for crying out loud. Expect Jerry Bruckheimer to pull something similar with Pirates 5 and be showered with praise. Overseas, Musketeers is a winner with $49 million collected from ticket sales. Apparently, Christoph Waltz is still a Bingo! with German audiences.

For the longest time I couldn’t put my head around why the world needed a sequel to Johnny English. It didn’t do that well in the U.S., but I keep underestimating the appeal of Mr. Bean overseas. Though Johnny English Reborn had its domestic release this weekend and only netted $3.7 million, across the pond it has already accumulated $91.7 million. Considering the first in the series amassed $160 million globally, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the sequel will repeat, and possibly better, that sum total.

Still maintaining a spot in the top five was George Clooney’s The Ides of March. As the must-see title for adult viewing (translation: think of the demographic that made NBC’s Frasier a hit for years), the film is maintaining interest and has already made its production budget back. Even if it loses theater screens in the coming weeks, look for it to slowly return to screens if Sony Pictures decides to mount an Oscar campaign for Clooney and star performer Ryan Gosling.

With the arrival of Paranormal Activity 3, any chance for The Thing to better its less than stellar first-week showing went for naught. The “premake” of John Carpenter’s ’80s cult fave had a 63% drop in attendance. With a weak opening and unkind word of mouth, the film had stinker written all over it. Perhaps studios should rethink what properties it wants to update for new audiences. If it worked the first time, why not let it be? Because we can only imagine what a new Big Trouble in Little China would look like if it starred Channing Tatum.

Finally, we have 50/50, a comedy that has been a top 10 staple for four weekends now. Its star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, must be living right. While his performance isn’t likely to be met with an Oscar nomination, he should be a shoe-in for a Golden Globe, since that award show has separate drama and comedy/musical categories for its actors. Another plus is his workhorse mentality. After having a scene-stealing moment in Inception, he’s on every director’s radar. 2012 will be a strong year for him career wise, as he will featured in The Dark Knight Returns, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and if he can work around his schedule he’ll also be a part of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. He also saw his film Premium Rush be bumped from its January 2012 release to August 2012, as studio Sony Pictures looks to market the film’s release noting it features one of the stars of The Dark Knight Rises.

1. Paranormal Activity 3 – $54 million
2. Real Steel – $11.3 million ($67 million)
3. Footloose – $10.9 million ($31 million)
4. The Three Musketeers – $8.8 million
5. The Ides of March – $4.9 million ($29 million)
6. Dolphin Tale – $4.5 million ($65 million)
7. Moneyball – $4.1 million ($64 million)
8. Johnny English Reborn – $3.7 million
9. The Thing – $3.1 million ($14 million)
10. 50/50 – $2.8 million ($29 million)

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