Box Office Results for October 21, 2011

This weekend, scaring up more business than the rest of the films in the top ten combined, the horror prequel Paranormal Activity 3 shattered records with its top spot debut proving that the low-budget fright franchise still has a lot of life in it.  But despite the massive debut and low declines for most holdovers, the overall box office was still down compared to last year as other newcomers like the adventure film The Three Musketeers and the comedy sequel Johnny English Reborn failed to contribute much to the North American marketplace.

Paramount kept growing its “found footage” based horror series as Paranormal Activity 3 opened ahead of expectations with a staggering $54M, according to estimates, leaping 33% ahead of the $40.7M debut that its predecessor enjoyed exactly one year ago this weekend.  Landing in 3,321 locations, the R-rated chiller averaged an astounding $16,266, which was a 29% improvement over last year’s installment.  Also going up was the production cost from $3M to $5M.  While horror films tend to be low cos anyway, the Paranormal Activity films have carried the lightest of budgets with the first pic being made for only $15,000.

Set in 1988 and telling the story of the sisters from the first two films when they were young girls, Paranormal Activity 3 kicked off its record scare with $26.3M on Friday including $8M from Thursday night’s 10pm and midnight shows.  Saturday dropped 35% to $17.2M and a 39% fall on Sunday to $10.4M.  Paranormal Activity 2 witnessed an identical Saturday decline and a slightly larger 42% fall on Sunday.  The $54M weekend figure broke the records for the biggest October opening ever and the best debut for a horror film.  Last year’s VIACOM‘s double feature of Jackass 3D and Paranormal Activity 2 held those respective records with their bows of $50.4M and $40.7M.  It can be argued that films like Touchstone‘s Signs from 2002 ($60.1M) and MGM and Universal‘s Hannibal from 2001 ($58M) were sold as scary movies, but neither was a true horror film……then again, neither are the Paranormal Activity films.

The Paranormal Activity franchise has fully replaced the Saw series as the public’s favorite fright brand during the Halloween season with the first two chapters reaching totals of $107.9M and $84.8M and also seizing the number one spot this very weekend each year.  Paranormal Activity was a sleeper hit thanks in part to one of the most brilliant marketing and distribution campaigns in recent years that allowed the fear to build over time resulting in it climbing into the top spot in its fifth frame.  That forced the latest Jigsaw pic Saw VI to lose fans prompting that franchise’s worst opening ($14.1M) and lowest overall gross ($27.7M).  Saw 3D: The Final Chapter closed out that series last year and Paranormal Activity 3 is now in a marketplace that not only is lacking a Saw competitor for the first time, but has no other horror films whatsoever coming up allowing Paramount to have full control over the market for scary movies this Halloween.

Horror threequels are notoriously front-loaded but Paranormal Activity 3 saw its opening day account for the same 49% share of the whole weekend gross that Paranormal Activity 2 did despite the new installment having many more screens offer the Thursday night shows.  Also notable was how the new chapter succeeded in bringing in older adults.  The over-25 crowd was 47% of the audience, up from 40% from last year’s installment.  The studio credited the very positive reviews it received, which again were astonishingly good for a horror threequel.  A low C+ CinemaScore grade, however, meant many fans were underwhelmed with their experience.  Paranormal Activity 2 saw 48% of its total gross come from the opening weekend, however it also faced a new Saw chapter in its second weekend.  With a larger opening and weaker competition, Paranormal Activity 3 may become that rare fright film to top the $100M mark joining the first installment.

Paramount rolled out its new chiller into 42 overseas markets this weekend and banked an estimated $26M for a stellar worldwide debut of $80M.  The three-part series has now grossed a staggering $450M worldwide in cumulative grosses while the combined production costs have amounted to a puny $8M.

Two-time box office ruler Real Steel stepped down into second place but still witnessed a very healthy hold dipping only 31% to an estimated $11.3M.  The DreamWorks film has collected a brawny $67.2M in 17 days and could be headed for a final tally in the $90-100M range.  Also sliding one spot while enjoying a low decline was the dance remake Footloose, which grossed an estimated $10.9M in its sophomore frame for a dip of only 30%.  Younger skewing movies typically fade fast but the Paramount and Spyglass pic is generating strong buzz and giving many women a fun, exciting form of entertainment.  A $55-60M final could result.

Summit and Constantin‘s 3D period adventure The Three Musketeers struggled in its North American launch opening to just $8.8M, according to estimates, from 3,017 theaters for a dull $2,917 average.  The PG-13 film starring an ensemble cast including Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, and Christoph Waltz saw 55% of its gross come from higher-priced 3D screens.  With the extra-dimensional format and the cast members holding much more weight around the world, international numbers have been – to no surprise – much stronger.  The Three Musketeers has taken in $64.4M overseas so far from more than 50 markets for a global tally to date of $73.2M.  The pricey production plans to keep the run going since there have been so few high-profile action titles this fall internationally.  Domestically, the action pic earned a B CinemaScore grade and played to an audience that was 64% 25 or older and evenly split between males and females.

George Clooney‘s political thriller The Ides of March held up well again dipping only 31% to an estimated $4.9M for a $29.2M total for Columbia and Cross CreekDolphin Tale followed with an estimated $4.2M, off just 33%, giving Warner Bros. and Alcon $64.4M to date.  Brad Pitt‘s baseball pic Moneyball was once again right next to the Morgan Freeman drama and eased only 26% to an estimated $4.1M putting the Columbia film at $63.7M overall.

The Rowan Atkinson spy sequel Johnny English Reborn failed to connect with American movie fans as the comedy debuted to weak results in eighth place with an estimated $3.8M.  The Working Title film averaged a poor $2,450 from 1,552 locations and didn’t even reach half of the opening weekend tallies for the actor’s previous films Johnny English and Mr. Bean’s Vacation.  Reviews were lackluster.  But overseas, where the star and character are much more popular, Johnny English Reborn vaulted past the $100M mark thanks to an estimated $13.5M from from 44 territories with 15 international markets still to open.  The $45M-budgeted film has now collected $104.5M offshore after a month of play and $108.3M worldwide.  Domestically, the PG-rated film played to an audience that was 57% male and included lots of kids and families.  The CinemaScore grade was a B.

Rounding out the top ten were the horror flop The Thing, which plunged 63% to an estimated $3.1M and the dramedy 50/50, which took in an estimated $2.8M slipping only 34%.  Totals are $14.1M for Universal and $28.8M for Summit and Mandate.

Outside of the top ten, the inspirational women’s basketball drama The Mighty Macs struck out the audiences debuting to only $1.1M, according to estimates, from 975 theaters for a dull $1,090 average.  The Carla Gugino starrer was released by Freestyle and failed to connect with moviegoers the way many other inspirational true stories have this fall.

In limited release, the smarthouse thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene enjoyed a solid debut grossing an estimated $138,000 from only two theaters a piece in New York and Los Angeles for a strong $34,500 average.  The Fox Searchlight release scored very positive reviews including glowing notices for lead actress Elizabeth Olsen and will expand to ten more major markets on Friday.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $107.9M, which was down 8% from last year when Paramount Pictures’ Paranormal Activity 2 debuted in the top spot with $40.7M; but up 7% from 2009 when DreamWorks Pictures’ Paranormal Activity climbed into the number one spot with $21.1M.

October 21, 2011 to October 23, 2011 Top Ten



1.   Paranormal Activity 3

  • $54,020,000
  • Paramount Pictures (Viacom)

2.   Real Steel

3.   Footloose

  • $10,850,000
  • Paramount Pictures (Viacom) and Spyglass Entertainment

4.   The Three Musketeers

  • $8,800,000
  • a Summit release
  • Constantin Film

5.   The Ides of March

  • $4,900,000
  • a Columbia release (Sony)
  • Cross Creek Pictures

6.   Dolphin Tale

  • $4,200,000
  • a Warner Bros. release (Time Warner)
  • Alcon Entertainment

7.   Moneyball

  • $4,050,000
  • Columbia Pictures (Sony)

8.   Johnny English Reborn

9.   The Thing

  • $3,115,000
  • Universal Pictures (NBCUniversal)

10. 50/50


October 22, 2010 to October 24, 2010 Top Ten



1.   Paranormal Activity 2

  • $40,678,000
  • Paramount Pictures (Viacom)

2.   Jackass 3D

3.   Red

4.   Hereafter

  • $12,018,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

5.   The Social Network

  • $7,277,000
  • Columbia Pictures (Sony)

6.   Secretariat

7.   Life as We Know It

  • $6,136,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

8.   Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

  • $3,248,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

9.   The Town

  • $2,749,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

10. Easy A


October 23, 2009 to October 25, 2009 Top Ten



1.   Paranormal Activity

  • $21,104,000
  • DreamWorks Pictures (Viacom)

2.   Saw VI

3.   Where the Wild Things Are

  • $14,019,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

4.   Law Abiding Citizen

5.   Couples Retreat

  • $10,621,000
  • Universal Pictures (NBCUniversal)

6.   Astro Boy

7.   Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

  • $6,293,000
  • Universal Pictures (NBCUniversal)

8.   The Stepfather

  • $6,231,000
  • Screen Gems (Sony)

9.   Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

10. Zombieland

  • $4,206,000
  • Columbia Pictures (Sony)

~ by Matt Whitfield on October 26, 2011.

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