It’s another weekend for the box office record books. Sort of. One week after Jackass 3D claimed the month’s highest opening weekend with $50.3 million, Paranormal Activity 2 has scored the highest opening ever for a supernatural horror flick. In terms of general horror titles, PA2 now ranks third. First or third, with an estimate of over $41 million, the sequel is opening scary-huge.
|1||Paranormal Activity 2||$41,500,000||$41.5|
|5||The Social Network||$7,200,000||$72.8|
|7||Life As We Know It||$6,300,000||$37.4|
|8||Legend of the Guardians||$3,100,000||$50|
The previous supernatural record holder was 2004’s The Grudge with $39.1 million. Only M Night Shyamalan’s The Village and Signs opened bigger with $50.7 and $60.1 million, respectively. The line between what is considered straight horror and supernatural horror seems kind of flimsy to me but I suppose these distinctions matter to someone. Paranormal Activity 2 also broke the October midnight record set just last week by Jackass 3D and the R rated midnight record set by Watchmen so, overall, the sequel now holds three records of dubious import.
If comparing supernatural horror to normal horror is not exactly straightforward, comparing Paranormal Activity 2 to its predecessor is even less so. At this time last year the original Paranormal Activity finally claimed number one after four weeks of stealthy marketing and exponential growth. At that time $21.1 million was enough to put the original in first place, though that film’s overall grosses topped $61 million that same week. The sequel has the advantage of name recognition, which accounts for that big opening number, but the first film had the advantage of being an event. How many times has a movie that cost $15,000 to make gone on to top $100 million? Anything the sequel does is great for the studio, but that sense of being in on something special is probably gone for good.
The only other major release this week also falls in the supernatural wheelhouse. Hereafter is certainly not a supernatural horror film but it is about talking to ghosts so I guess there’s a parallel to be made. Unfortunately for director Clint Eastwood, there was no way to parallel Paranormal Activity 2 in terms of weekend numbers. Hereafter placed fourth with an estimated $12 million from 2,181 locations on its first weekend in wide release. That makes the film more profitable than 2008’s Changeling (a horror movie of a whole different kind) but far less than Gran Torino, which brought in $29.4 million went it went wide in January of last year. Hereafter has had weak reviews so I wouldn’t expect it to show strong holds in the weeks to come.
The film that is showing that staying power is Red. It seems that, when given the choice between a grownup movie about grief and a grownup movie about guns, adult audiences chose the latter. Red lost an estimated 31% of its debut gross in its second week – an excellent hold that puts it in third place with $15 million.
The hold was not so solid in the case of the award-winning – I mean “record-breaking” -Jackass 3D. After its giant first place debut last weekend, Jackass 3D fell an estimated 57% this weekend to take second place with $21.6 million. That percentage drop, though a bit steeper than the first two films in the franchise, is balanced by higher 3D ticket prices so –Jackass wins again!
Exactly one year ago Paranormal Activity made a fool out of Saw VI. The horror “classic” debuted in second place with just $14 million, well behind the upstart Activity. It was so sweet, truly. Next weekend the Saw franchise will try to even the score with the release of Saw 3D. This time I’m pretty sure that Jigsaw has the advantage but, I can dream…