SUNDAY UPDATE: Paramount said this morning that Paranormal Activity is set for an expanded release into over 40 markets at all hours on October 9th after selling out all its midnight screenings across the country Thursday through Saturday in 33 cities, earning a per screen of $16K for a total estimated gross of $535K. “The fans have spoken, and we are listening,” Paramount’s Rob Moore was quoted as hyping.
SATURDAY 11 AM: This doesn’t happen that often, so I don’t blame Paramount for crowing about its freakishly good numbers for Paranormal Activity, which will do $500K this weekend on 33 screens playing ONLY after midnight. That’s a $15K screen average for midnight business. Yikes! It did $150K Thursday and took in another $200K on Friday after selling out every theater. The pic was originally acquired by Paramount bigwig Adam Goodman back when he was at DreamWorks to remake it. (The hype is that Steven Spielberg was so freaked out when he first saw it that he returned it to DreamWorks in a garbage bag…) Then Paramount had a preview, and the movie played well, so the studio was looking for an approach to release it. What began as a heavy screening plan and college outreach to get fans to make it their own morphed last week into a release in 12 college towns doing only midnight shows. Some $80K business later, Paramount added 21 midnight screens this week, including LA’s ArcLight (which sold out its 15 midnight shows for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday combined). “It’s a little movie that’s scaring peoples brains out,” a studio exec emailed me. Plus, it’s got 93% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I gotta say, that TV ad campaign is effective, too. Next week, Paranormal Activity will expand to somewhere around 100 screens playing full day schedules. It will be interesting to see how big the overall fan base is after the college Facebook Twitter folks have really embraced this film and made it their own.