With around $56 million worldwide in three days, it's going to take a much harder fall than what we witnessed this weekend to bury the Paranormal Activity series, especially with Paramount not exactly rolling in franchises these days. This is a studio's wet-dream, earning incredibly large profits for almost no money. Yes, audiences are cooling off a bit and perhaps the alleged mediocrity of the fourth installment (I didn't see it, but I know people who liked the three previous installments who hated this one) will do serious damage to Paranormal Activity 5, just as the rather awful Saw V was a major factor in the poor box office of the vastly superior Saw VI. But until the budgets for these glorified home movies grow to a point where they aren't making their entire production budget back by midnight, this series is here to stay. Anyway, the film earned a C from Cinemascore as opposed to a C+ for the last film. It played 50/50 male/female and 60 percent under 25. Still, eventually some other horror franchise will explode out of the blue and take control of the Halloween season. For better or worse, we'll be seeing a few more of these before the end. And if I'm a little sad about passing on one of those Thursday screenings, it's not because I like the series so much as I enjoy sitting in a crowded theater watching everyone else scream and shout on cue.
On the other side of the coin, the Patterson fans weren't too thrilled with Tyler Perry's casting, especially when he basically replaced Idris Elba in what amounts to a bold-faced "we're trading the superior actor for a brand-name movie star" move. Add an inexplicable PG-13 to the mix, and the Patterson fans decided to pass. For general audiences the film came off like a sub-par episode of Criminal Minds (a show that is basically James Patterson-meets-Justice League), which reviews mostly confirmed. For comparison, Kiss the Girls opened with $13 million and ended with $60 million back in October 1997 while Along Came A Spider opened with $16 million and ended with $74 million in April 2001. If Perry wants to ' break out', he needs to take a major supporting role in someone else's prestige picture rather than merely expect his fans to follow him to a wholly different genre. Those that saw the film liked it, giving it an A grade, and the film cost just $25 million to produce. A planned sequel, Double Cross, has already been announced, so unless the film completely drops like a stone and can't clear $60 million worldwide, we'll probably see another one in a couple years. Truth be told, I can't help wonder how much better the finished product would have been had Perry actually directed it. Come what may, ugly visuals and shakey-cam issues are not generally found in a Tyler Perry film. Next time, demand that Perry direct as well and let it go out with an R-rating.Argo. The terrific historical thriller (fictionalized in certain spots of course) earned another $16.6 million, a drop of just 14 percent from last weekend. This film is clearly becoming the adult movie of choice as well as the general consensus 'second choice' option and it may stay that way for at least the next few weeks until Flight and Skyfall are both available. With $43 million, the film has basically earned back its $44 million production budget in ten days and it has an outside shot at $100 million domestic. It actually had a larger second weekend than The Town, which dropped a perfectly decent 34 percent and earned $15 million off a larger $23 million debut two years ago. If this continues, Argo will start tracking ahead of The Town by next weekend and finish ahead of that film's $92 million domestic final. Ben Affleck is clearly one of the top directors working today in the realm of 'the kind of film they don't make anymore' and he may end up with an Oscar or two in a few months. If you're only recently discovering his directorial talents, please rent his superb first film, Gone Baby Gone.
For the rest of this article, specifically concerning older releases, go HERE.
Follow Scott Mendelson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ScottMendelson