SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Sources tell me Friday’s and Saturday’s North American grosses and weekend and cume for the Top 10 are:
1. Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount) NEW [3,216 Theaters]
Friday $20M, Saturday $13M, Weekend $41.5M
The success of Paranormal Activity 2 is a classic case of, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Like the sleeper smash original, the sequel was made for a bare bones budget of $3 million and now is the biggest horror opening ever (record held by Friday The 13th at $40.5M). It logged a “B” Cinemscore, and the audience was 61% under age 25 and 54% female. The director of the first Paranormal Activity, Oren Peli, stayed on as producer along with Akiva Goldsman and Jason Blum. Katie Featherston, who was at the center of the first film’s action, also returned. Paramount set Tod “Kip” Williams to direct the sequel after first choice Kevin Greutert departed when Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures enforced an option that made him the director of Saw 3D, the film that opens against Paranormal 2 on Halloween weekend. Interesting choice of a filmmaker best known for directing The Door in the Floor, an inventive adaptation of the John Irving novel A Widow For One Year. Screenplay by Michael Perry, and Christopher Landon and Tom Pabst.
The production and its viral and online marketing campaign stayed true to the original, even down to the intimate handheld style of the first with its so-called “found footage” positioning and a media budget half of what a studio would normally spend to get film to this gross. Paramount was gushing what a “spectacular number” $6.3 million is from 1,800 midnight screening locations, passing Watchmen‘s $4.6 million as the highest midnight grosser of all time for an “R”-rated pic. Whereas the first film started off as a sleeper in a few college town locations and expanded its release week by week as word of mouth grew and a smart TV ad campaign got going, Hollywood was convinced that PA2 could break the $30 million barrier, always tough for any R-rated flick. But $41.5M is overwhelming. Especially since the best weekend of the first was $21.1M. Rotten Tomatoes showcased 75% positive reviews for the horror film, almost as good as the original’s 82%. “There is no Blair Witch curse here,” a Paramount exec gushed to me by email.
Promotion kicked off in July with a trailer paired with the Twilight Saga’s Eclipse and sparked controvery in Texas when patrons were complaining that their teens had nightmares after watching it. So Cinemark execs pulled it from several theaters because of multiple complaints it was “too scary”. Paramount of course marketed the first installment of the psychological thriller precisely on the basis that it was frightening the bejesus out of college town moviegoers. Both the plot and the characters were kept under wraps with fans left to speculate if the couple featured in the first film would return for the sequel. Fans only had it confirmed this week when a short clip was posted online with katie discussing that her boyfriend, who doesn’t fare well in the first film, wasn’t feeling up to hanging out that day, leaving fans to debate whether Paranormal Activity 2 was a sequel or a prequel.
2. Jackass 3D (Paramount) Week 2 [3,111 Theaters]
Friday $7.5M, Saturday $8.2M, Weekend $21.6M (-57%), Cume $87.1M
So Paramount knocked out Paramount for a #1-#2 punch at the box office. Hard for Jackass 3D not to do $125m domestic.
3. Red (Summit) Week 2 [3,273 Theaters]
Friday $4.5M, Saturday $6.6M, Weekend $15M (-31%), Cume $43.5M
Excellent hold for Red, showing that the +35-aged crowd is starving for adult fare at the box office.
4. Hereafter (Warner Bros) Week 2 [2,181 Theaters]
Friday $4.1M, Saturday $4.9M, Weekend $12M, Cume $12.3M
After platforming in 6 theaters in NYC and LA and Toronto last week, Hereafter went wide Friday and increased +19% for Saturday with 80% of its audience over age 30. Three different studios had told me this month that the pic, despite featuring multiple Oscar-winner Clint Eastwood directing Oscar-nominated screenwriter Peter Morgan’s very personal spiritual script starring Oscar winner Matt Damon, wasn’t tracking well. But Warner Bros execs told me that “was not really accurate. We aren’t tracking as well with young audiences, but that’s to be expected with this kind of film. Given that younger respondents are so bombarded right now in the marketplace with Halloween horror films, as well Jackass 3D and The Social Network.” The studio’s 30-second tsunami TV spot tested the best overall, and ran in sports programming, but I felt it made Hereafter look like an action flick instead of the thoughtful and comprehensive pic it is. By contrast, another 30-second provocative spot targeted older females. The result was that, by Friday, Hereafter experienced some encouraging momentum and was in better shape on tracking. Awareness was already quite strong among older moviegoers (75% of the sample aged 25+ were aware already) while First Choice among those aged 25+ more than doubled over the past week. Only Red had higher choice among the 25+ crowd Friday.
5. The Social Network (Sony) Week 4 [2,921 Theaters
Friday $2.2M, Saturday $3.2M, Weekend $7.3M, Cume $72.9M
6. Secretariat (Disney) Week 3 [3,108 Theaters]
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $3M, Weekend $6.9M, Cume $37.3M
7. Life As We Know It (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,019 Theaters]
Friday $2M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $6.1M, Cume $37.6M
8. Legends Of The Guardians (Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,236 Theaters]
Friday $775K, Saturday $1.4m, Weekend $3.1M, Cume $50.1M
9. The Town (Warner Bros) Week 6 [1,918 Theaters]
Friday $820K, Saturday $1.2M, Weekend $2.7M, Cume $84.6M
10. Easy A #(Sony) Week 6 [1,632 Theaters]
Friday $565K, Saturday $800K, Weekend $1.7M, Cume $54.7M