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Weekend Box Office: Paranormal Activity 3 Scores Record October Debut With $54 Million

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Despite what everyone else is reporting, Paranormal Activity 3 (review) did not set a record this weekend for the biggest opening for a horror film.  Lest we forget, Hannibal (review) opened with $58 million in February of 2001, which was actually the biggest R-rated opening ever at the time.  Anyway, Paramount's threequel/prequel will have to settle with merely being the second- biggest horror debut ever, the eighth-biggest R-rated opening, and the top October launch.  Tragic, I know. The $5 million film grossed a massive $54 million this weekend, which is a 35% jump from Paranormal Activity 2's $40.6 million opening this time last year.  The film had a massively front loaded weekend, the ninth-biggest on record, with a mere 2.06x weekend multiplier.  Still, that was better than the 2.01x weekend multiplier for Paranormal Activity 2 last year (the sixth-smallest such multiplier).  The picture played 53% under-25 and 54% female.  Considering the film pulled just in $1.7 million more at midnight, the $26 million opening day (around $6 million more than Paranormal Activity 2's $20.6 million Friday) and $14 million jump in total opening weekend compared to the last film, there is a clear growth in this series.

The first film opened very slowly, with massive per-screen averages leading up to a pre-Halloween wide release that grossed $21 million against the opening weekend of the comparatively under performing Saw VI (review) ($14 million).  Paranormal Activity (review) ended up with $109 million, while the sequel opened with a massive $40 million weekend but ended with just $84 million (a meager 2.1x weekend-to-final gross multiplier).  Even if the third picture manages equally poor legs, it will still end up with $113 million. Whether or not the series has peaked with the third installment like Saw III, this uber-cheap franchise has been a licence to print money for the last three years and should continue to be so for the next few Halloweens.  Paramount has scored a studio's dream - blockbuster grosses on a franchise with minuscule costs.  It's already done $26 million worldwide, giving the film a massive (for a cheap horror film) $80 million worldwide debut.  Come what may, they will be milking this series until the audience stops caring.

The other two wide releases were both domestic bombs, but both have already scored overseas.  The Three Musketeers (review)Paul W.S. Anderson's 3D version of the classic novel, grossed just $8.8 million.  That's lower than the $10.3 million opening for The Musketeer back in 2001, and even the $10.6 million opening for Disney's The Three Muskteers back in 1993.  The poorly-reviewed film played 50/50 across gender lines, with 36% under-25 and a Cinemascore grade of 'B'.  Still, the film has done solid business in European markets for the last month, with a worldwide gross of $73 million already racked up for the $75 million production.  Also scoring overseas was Universal's Johnny English Reborn (review).  The sequel to the 2003 Rowan Atkinson spy-spoof grossed just $3.8 million this weekend stateside, but has already amassed $108 million worldwide.

In limited-release news, Margin Call (one of the better films of the season, natch) grossed a solid $582,000 on 56 screens, for a solid $10,930 per-screen average.  The financial-crisis drama (starring Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, and Jeremy Irons among others) is also available as a Video On Demand title, making its theatrical performance all the more impressive.  Martha Marcy May Marlene, the allegedly terrific Elizabeth Olsen drama about a young woman who escapes from a cult (my wife wants to see it so I'm waiting) scored $34,000 per-screen on four screens, while the documentary Being Elmo earned $25,000 on a single screen.  The Mighty Macs, a family-friendly film about girls' basketball, grossed $1,000 per screen in 975 theaters.  Snowmen (review), another family film, debuted with $73,000 on 19 screens.

This article concludes, with a look at holdovers and a sneak peak at next weekend's releases, at Mendelson's Memos.