Box Office: Horror history as ‘Paranormal Activity 3’ scares up $54 million

Many in Hollywood think found footage movies have run their course, but after this weekend Paramount Pictures is definitely still a believer. 

Budgeted at just a reported $5 million, “Paranormal Activity 3” shattered the box office opening weekend record for a horror film by debuting to $54 million over the three-day.  That’s a big jump from “Paranormal Activity 2” which set the previous horror record with a $40 million opening last year.  It’s clear that after this weekend’s numbers “PA3” will easily surpass “PA2’s” $84 million domestic gross.  The $54 million gross is also the largest opening since “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” also found $54 million at the beginning of August.

Dropping to the second slot was DreamWorks’ “Real Steel.”  The Hugh Jackman family flick grossed another $11.3 million for $67.2 million to date.  The picture will have to perform better overseas for DreamWorks to break even on the $125 million plus budgeted spectacle.

“Footloose” danced to third with another $10.8 million and $30 million in just 10 days.  It’s not the breakout hit Paramount Pictures was hoping for, but it’s playing in Middle America and could come close to break even in the long run.

Fourth place went to Summit Entertainment’s release of “The Three Musketeers” with a tepid $8.8 million.  Star Milla Jovovich has already made her displeasure (or perhaps her husband’s displeasure) at the company’s marketing campaign known, but the studio may have been trying to keep creative costs down considering the quality of the picture.

“The Ides of March” was fifth with $4.9 million and $29.1 million to date.  As we’ve been comparing over the past few weeks on HitFix, “March” is playing similarly to “Michael Clayton” which was at $28 million at this juncture in its 2007 run.  That thriller finished with $49 million and seven Oscar nominations including best picture.  Anyone considering this picture a disappointment should realize it’s got a long run ahead of itself.

Opening in just four theaters was Fox Searchlight pickup “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”  The Sundance Film Festival drama found a very strong $34,000 per screen for $138,000 total.  The picture will expand across the country in the coming weeks. 

Taking a little bit of the limited release attention away from “Martha” was Roadside Attractions’ “Margin Call.” Debuting on both VOD and in theaters on the same weekend, the Wall Street crash drama had a very good $10,393 per screen in 56 theaters for $582,000. Most VOD releases, especially in Magnolia Pictures’ cases, occur weeks before release in theaters, but it appears this is one of the best simultaneous rollouts to date. 

Next weekend’s new releases include “Puss in Boots,” “The Rum Diary,” “In Time” and, in just 200 theaters, “Anonymous.”

Actual weekend returns are released on Monday.