Just when you thought that maybe – just maybe – people were going to tire of another Paranormal Activity prequel, horror fans flocked to theaters in droves, giving the third movie in the highly profitable franchise a record-setting debut.
Paranormal Activity 3, a movie that looks at the women featured in the first two films as children who are haunted by some form of demon, earned an estimated $54 million this weekend. That’s the biggest opening for a horror movie ever (unless you count 2002′s Signs, which I’m inclined to do, which earned $60 million in its opening weekend), and the biggest October release ever, beating last year’s Jackass 3D’s $50.35 million.
Last year’s Paranoraml Activity 2 earned “only” $40.7 million, which was the previous record holder for a horror movie.
Strong reviews – many critics have been calling the movie the best of the three – and a lack of compelling competition propelled the franchise to new heights, but the number is still pretty staggering. I had gotten the sense that enthusiasm for the franchise was waning, but shame on me for underestimating horror fans. The Saw franchise was successful for years before it finally lost its edge (thanks to the first Paranormal Activity, no less), and those weren’t even good or scary. The Paranormal Activity movies, on the other hand, are legitimately frightening, placing the horror in a location most moviegoers can relate to: their home.
In other news, The Three Musketeers mustered only $8.8 million for the weekend due to horrendous reviews, bad word of mouth, terrible trailers and flying airships.
Johnny English Reborn, already with $105 million in the bank worldwide, died at birth in the U.S. with only $3.8 million.
In limited release, The Mighty Macs earned $1.06 million from 975 theaters. The faith-based sports movie wasn’t very mighty with a per-theater average of $1,090. On the flip side, the excellent Martha Marcy May Marlene earned $137,541 from only four theaters, good for a per-theater average of $34,385. As soon as this one makes it to a theater near you, you are highly recommended to go see it immediately.