Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrap-Up: Theaters Buzz With Paranormal Activity

Plus, Astro Boy flies under the radarm and Amelia crashes and burns.

by | October 25, 2009 | Comments

This weekend what looked to be a close race between two major horror films ended up being no contest at all as moviegoers demanding a scare on the final full weekend before Halloween rallied behind the indie sensation Paranormal Activity which rose to number one in its fifth frame brutally punishing the opening for Saw VI which suffered the worst debut ever in the profitable franchise’s history. Three other new releases ended up with small chunks of change outside of the top five while the overall marketplace slumped below last year’s performance.

A month of building buzz and excitement paid off for Paramount as the studio went fully wide with its no-budget ghost story Paranormal Activity seizing the top spot with an estimated $22M. The R-rated supernatural thriller expanded from 763 to 1,945 locations and watched its gross creep up 12% from last weekend. The total now stands at an incredible $62.5M after two weeks of midnight-only shows and 17 days of conventional release. The per-theater average stood at a solid $11,311. With Halloween still a week away, Paranormal Activity could go on to crack the $100M mark which would be an amazing feat for a film that cost a mere $15,000 to make and did not have the usual pricey marketing investment.

Rather than serving up brutal torture like the Saw pics or using the slasher formula of so many other horror movies, Paranormal uses basic but very creative techniques to examine ghosts and things that go bump in the night as we sleep. The creepy thriller has come as a refreshing alternative to gory fright flicks and has scored big points with young women, and the men who follow them in order to get a date. Becoming a pop culture phenomenon, it still has plenty of untapped potential with curious ticketbuyers wanting to find out what the buzz is all about.


The success of Paranormal Activity was devastating to the debut of Saw VI which attracted an estimated $14.8M in ticket sales this weekend. Grosses were sliced in half compared to the last four installments of Lionsgate’s signature franchise which all consistently opened in the $30-34M range. Saw VI‘s bow stumbled a troubling 51% from Saw V‘s $30.1M and dropped a steep 53% from Saw IV‘s $31.8M. The new chapter averaged a moderate $4,874 from 3,036 theaters.

Part of the success of the Saw series came from a lack of competition. Generally when a new pic opened, no new fright films would debut against it and the strongest horror holdovers would gross relatively low amounts. So on the weekend before Halloween, Saw was virtually the only game in town. When Saw V opened a year ago, the only other scary movie in the top ten was Quarantine which grossed a measly $2.6M in its third frame while Saw IV‘s only competition in its top ten was 30 Days of Night which captured just $6.9M in its sophomore session.


But this year was different. Paranormal Activity and the second weekend of The Stepfather combined for $28.5M worth of business from moviegoers looking to be terrified. So is this the beginning of the end to the Jigsaw franchise? Not necessarily. Paranormal represents a unique situation that may not be repeated any time soon so the next Saw flick may just face a better competitive environment. Plus Saw VII is being shot in 3D and films like My Bloody Valentine and The Final Destination have shown this year that horror fans are more than willing to shell out the extra cash for a good extra-dimensional screamfest. But other studios have now tasted blood and know that the Saw franchise is not indestructible anymore so they may be more aggressive in their programming of horror movies next October.

Last weekend’s wild rumpus cleared pretty quickly as Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are tumbled 56% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $14.4M taking third place. With $54M in ten days, the $75M production should end its domestic run with about $80-85M for Warner Bros as the PG-rated film is not holding up like most good kidpics do, especially since it faced very little direct competition this weekend.


The Jamie Foxx-Gerard Butler action thriller Law Abiding Citizen remained strong in its second weekend dropping only 40% to an estimated $12.7M putting it in fourth place. In only ten days, the R-rated revenge pic edged past the $40.1M of Righteous Kill to become the highest-grossing release in Overture’s short history. A final tally of around $70M may result.

Moviegoers looking for a laugh continued to show up for Vince Vaughn’s Couples Retreat which grossed an estimated $11.1M, down 36% in its third frame, boosting the 17-day tally to $78.2M. The Universal release is still on a trajectory to hit $100M.


Kids don’t seem to care about animated films if they aren’t in 3D anymore. Summit released the toon adventure Astro Boy very wide in 3,014 sites but pulled in just $7M in ticket sales, according to estimates, leaving a dismal $2,328 average. The PG-rated film carried a $65M production budget and was financed by Hong Kong’s Imagi Animation Studios which hit number one two years ago with the turtle power toon TMNT.

Considering all the fright competition, The Stepfather fared well in its second outing dropping just 44% to an estimated $6.5M. With $20.4M in ten days, look for Sony’s $19M production to finish with $30-35M.

Universal’s Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant flopped in eighth place grossing just $6.3M, according to estimates, averaging a weak $2,305 from 2,754 locations. The PG-13 film failed to pull in that many fans of the book series and couldn’t convince fright fans when two much bigger scary movies were topping the charts. Studio research showed that 51% of the audience was female and 53% was under 25.


Sony rounded out the top ten with a pair of former number ones which have both done very well for the studio. The animated hit Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs dipped 30% to an estimated $5.6M while the horror-comedy Zombieland dropped 44% to an estimated $4.3M. Totals now stand at $115.2M and $67.3M, respectively. Zombieland now has the distinction of being the year’s top-grossing horror pic, although Paranormal Activity will swipe that title by Wednesday or Thursday.

Opening outside of the top ten with a small gross and a respectable average was Hilary Swank’s biopic Amelia which bowed to an estimated $4M from 818 locations for a $4,921 average. The Fox Searchlight release about aviator Amelia Earhart earned weak reviews and played to an older and more female audience. The average almost matched the $5,055 that last October’s Changeling with Angelina Jolie generated when it went wide after a limited bow.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $104.8M which was down 10% from last year when High School Musical 3 opened in the top spot with $42M; but up 29% from 2007 when Saw IV debuted at number one with $31.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru

Tag Cloud

YA dceu HFPA Sundance TV Trivia Family American Society of Cinematographers twilight hollywood police drama Mary Poppins Returns Creative Arts Emmys Netflix Christmas movies 71st Emmy Awards Superheroe Anna Paquin 21st Century Fox archives boxoffice Shudder SundanceTV President SXSW 2022 blaxploitation aliens facebook talk show TLC mutant asian-american RT History Holidays political drama scorecard comic war Heroines spanish language hispanic cults cops saw Hallmark TV emmy awards WarnerMedia independent The Walking Dead MGM DC Comics Calendar Logo YouTube Premium kong Disney Channel Vudu latino basketball South by Southwest Film Festival CW Seed Best Actor 73rd Emmy Awards suspense Funimation Lucasfilm stoner Disney Plus USA Network Baby Yoda revenge films dc news sag awards Epix target scene in color spinoff black cancelled TV shows Marvel Television christmas movies Song of Ice and Fire Best Actress golden globes know your critic Black History Month parents Opinion 2019 Rocketman laika joker sitcom cooking Dark Horse Comics See It Skip It A&E OneApp italian Best Director renewed TV shows TV Land video witnail high school MTV sequel crossover period drama 2018 screen actors guild Superheroes Winter TV Tomatazos elevated horror live action adaptation Broadway Comedy Musicals Rom-Com chucky Hallmark Christmas movies marvel comics ViacomCBS razzies blockbusters Masterpiece X-Men USA new zealand diversity south america LGBTQ Endgame nature 24 frames series lord of the rings Hear Us Out Mary Tyler Moore child's play Apple TV+ Classic Film tv talk scene in color 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards 72 Emmy Awards concert worst television rom-coms Legendary Pirates award winner sports Writers Guild of America sopranos Rocky Pride Month worst movies dogs historical drama zombies trailers 2017 Awards Tour HBO discovery TCA 2017 royal family Trailer movies foreign IFC Tarantino Universal Pictures theme song Chernobyl Sundance live event documentary Television Academy dragons Ovation Infographic olympics Disney+ Disney Plus MSNBC supernatural Video Games robots Showtime justice league Tags: Comedy Ghostbusters Syfy mockumentary a nightmare on elm street Travel Channel TV One dramedy binge king kong Television Critics Association CBS El Rey ABC Signature crime Trophy Talk criterion adenture miniseries WGN biography Fox Searchlight PlayStation halloween First Reviews E! action-comedy 90s quibi Paramount Pictures vampires ghosts new star wars movies rotten Christmas golden globe awards all-time Women's History Month 1990s Reality Competition The Walt Disney Company 2015 japanese young adult Comic Book First Look medical drama summer TV preview The CW Marvel IMDb TV slashers superman 94th Oscars mob kids teaser AMC Plus Holiday book Peacock toy story VICE anthology Schedule romance Fall TV Year in Review leaderboard Election fast and furious SXSW nfl black comedy Pop Acorn TV richard e. Grant scary CBS All Access New York Comic Con docuseries marvel cinematic universe Toys HBO Go new york superhero casting composers trophy natural history Reality Tokyo Olympics Crackle posters Mudbound science fiction cancelled Turner Pop TV 20th Century Fox Ellie Kemper Hulu Amazon Prime Britbox docudrama game of thrones social media Marvel Studios telelvision australia BET Awards Kids & Family art house IFC Films Nominations Freeform king arthur Esquire RT21 football The Purge Awards documentaries Drama gangster Neflix Wes Anderson Emmys Geeked Week jamie lee curtis Marathons comic book movie Emmy Nominations Valentine's Day free movies popular Action Country book adaptation scary movies rt labs Cartoon Network Netflix The Arrangement reboot Native PBS Mindy Kaling Sundance Now TV movies Comic-Con@Home 2021 DirecTV Lionsgate 93rd Oscars strong female leads ABC Family Nickelodeon TIFF Best and Worst werewolf harry potter Paramount Plus Spring TV AMC Red Carpet YouTube Red 99% spanish cars FXX TCA Awards TCM Disney streaming service Star Wars E3 Columbia Pictures jurassic park comic book movies green book dreamworks Cosplay Image Comics Biopics Sony Interview scene in color series reviews Food Network universal monsters genre Walt Disney Pictures slasher TV renewals Pacific Islander NBC comic books TCA Winter 2020 Polls and Games 4/20 Crunchyroll Comedy Central Shondaland die hard remakes godzilla Tumblr space james bond adventure Black Mirror politics Binge Guide Apple heist movie TruTV TCA 2021 Lifetime best OWN Musical Fantasy Nat Geo Hollywood Foreign Press Association Arrowverse japan PaleyFest technology Paramount Network interviews Apple TV Plus psychological thriller Spectrum Originals Teen BBC Disney Adult Swim cartoon toronto satire streaming rotten movies we love wonder woman HBO Max VH1 Alien singing competition animated Martial Arts Stephen King BBC One aapi Focus Features Comics on TV cats spider-verse festival Cannes children's TV travel based on movie feel good biopic GIFs directors transformers streaming movies obituary YouTube nbcuniversal Mystery summer preview Super Bowl rt archives hispanic heritage month BET spider-man Elton John NBA indie ABC pirates of the caribbean Lifetime Christmas movies blockbuster Western Warner Bros. Box Office legend Chilling Adventures of Sabrina canceled TV shows Watching Series batman Universal Sneak Peek Quiz FX on Hulu what to watch kaiju Spike Mary poppins Paramount History comedies obi wan DC Universe DGA Oscar 45 San Diego Comic-Con true crime stop motion Countdown Amazon Studios ID Indigenous Film Festival doctor who TBS boxing crime thriller Certified Fresh Podcast Turner Classic Movies cancelled television comiccon debate SDCC franchise spy thriller movie target Grammys Summer comics women 79th Golden Globes Awards Star Wars Celebration Starz video on demand anime cancelled TV series Winners FX Best Picture BBC America spain ITV serial killer Exclusive Video canceled breaking bad unscripted Thanksgiving DC streaming service National Geographic Academy Awards Extras CNN Oscars The Academy Film romantic comedy Bravo BAFTA crime drama cinemax Music mcc prank Amazon Sci-Fi scene in color film series Brie Larson french Star Trek finale critic resources name the review Fox News A24 Instagram Live fresh zero dark thirty festivals Avengers CMT deadpool mission: impossible classics vs. Captain marvel Character Guide APB Prime Video indiana jones MCU TNT Pixar screenings hist Discovery Channel streamig venice Animation 2016 VOD Set visit thriller sequels halloween tv disaster international dark ratings broadcast Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt The Witch 007 Premiere Dates Rock LGBT stand-up comedy Fargo psycho game show FOX critics rt labs critics edition hidden camera Horror GLAAD summer TV versus monster movies 2020 Sony Pictures Pet Sematary GoT dexter Photos Amazon Prime Video ESPN NYCC Tubi zombie