SUNDAY CENTS: Jigsaw scared off by ‘Paranormal Activity’

Posted by · 12:03 pm · October 25th, 2009

Paranormal ActivityFour weeks after opening on 12 screens with only midnight shows, “Paranormal Activity” has topped the box office and made mincemeat out of the “Saw” series. Paramount’s no-budget thriller earned $22 million this weekend on 1,945 screens and saw its total stretch past $60 million.

This type of ascent to the summit hasn’t been seen since “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in 2002 and with at least one more lucrative weekend over Halloween, the film has surely etched its name in the record books as one of the most profitable of all time. Congratulations to everyone involved and thanks for making it look so easy, you jerks!

Second place goes to “Saw VI,” which earned a rough $14.8 million. This is easily the lowest debut of the franchise and is less than half of what “Saw V” pulled in last year. The films are undoubtedly cheap to produce so it may not mean that “Saw VII” is off the table, but some significant changes will have to be made. And they will probably be made in 3D. Obviously, the innovation of “Paranormal Activity” just made a sixth helping of Jigsaw’s puzzle murders seem a little stupid.

“Where the Wild Things Are” fell a troubling 56%, which wasn’t entirely unexpected after it was revealed that only 29% of the opening weekend audience was parents with children. This was more of a fanboy title and the mixed reception dictated the decline. But with $54 million already in the bank, execs at Warner Bros. can’t be too worried about it and perhaps this success means that a few puppeteers can get out of the unemployment line for a while in Hollywood.

“Law Abiding Citizen” held strong with a 40% drop to $12.7 million and continues to monopolize the Dad crowd. This is the figure I thought it would debut with, so obviously Overture has exceeded expectations and it’s another victory for vigilante justice. I hope this starts a trend of films being titled exactly the opposite of what they are about. “Where the Wild Things Aren’t.” “Normal Activity.” “Michael Jackson: More to Come.” Who’s with me?

Is there any reason to talk about “Astro Boy” or “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant?” Both debuted in the $6-$7 million range and neither connected with its target audience, which were kids and teens respectively. The former might have some legs but the latter will have to drive a stake through the heart of plans to adapt any of the other 11 books in the series. I hope it didn’t have an open ending.

That’s it. Oh, wait. Didn’t some Oscar movie come out to general disdain? I think it did but I don’t see it in the top 10.

Poor “Amelia” got lost flying over the radars of most of America and earned a tepid $4 million from 818 screens. The savage critical reception already did the Oscar damage but this result will serve as the nail in the coffin and stain the reputation of Fox Searchlight a little. I mean, the studio also released “Miss March” and “Post Grad,” but this one was meant to be something that it clearly failed to become.

“A Serious Man” and “An Education” continued to slowly and successfully expand, while “Antichrist” made the biggest new impression on the art house scene. It’s nt enough for Charlotte Gainsbourg to begin to feature in Oscar discussions though, I don’t think.

This week, I was entertaining a guest and then working out of town so I’ve got no movies to report on. I can’t wait to get back and check out “Antichrist,” though.

Next week gives us one movie and one movie only: “Michael Jackson’s This is It,” opening on Wednesday. Sony picked up the rights to this sucker for $60 million and some scoffed. No one is scoffing now as pre-sales have set records everywhere and you can expect one of the biggest opening days of the year.

Where it goes from there is a huge question mark. I think $40 million on Wednesday isn’t out of the question and somewhere around $100 million for the five-day period. But with no precedent to look to, that could feasibly be more like $50 million or $150 million. Two things I know for sure: It will be bigger overseas than here in the States and I will be there opening night. How about you?

Here are the weekend’s top domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, October 23, 2009

→ 22 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

22 responses so far

  • 1 10-25-2009 at 12:16 pm

    Joel said...

    I saw “Amelia” and “Astro Boy” both Friday. “Amelia” was dull and listless. “Astro Boy” had a sense of fun about it. I’ll be seeing “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” next weekend.

  • 2 10-25-2009 at 1:00 pm

    Bryan said...

    I’d pay money to see Where the Wild Things Aren’t. But it needs Jonze, Records, and Keener.

  • 3 10-25-2009 at 1:15 pm

    Martin Unger said...

    They announced the next Saw film would be in 3D months ago, so that was decided way before the BO numbers came in

  • 4 10-25-2009 at 1:27 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Beautiful. Just beautiful. Bye-bye torture porn.

  • 5 10-25-2009 at 1:45 pm

    j said...

    This decade’s lowest-grossing Actress-nominated pics, unadjusted: Frozen River 2.5, Vera Drake 3.8, Away from Her 4.5, Little Children 5.5, Iris 5.6. Bright Star has about 4 million.

    3rd weekend in a row with Paranormal getting a 10k avg/1+mil total. Of 43 weekends, this avg/total has happened 40 times. I think Revolutionary Road is 2009’s only other movie to have 3 such weekends.

  • 6 10-25-2009 at 2:47 pm

    Cde. said...

    Now that it’s been proven that they’re not indestructible, I expect to see all the other studios throw a lot of horror competition at Halloween from here on in, like they should have been doing from the beginning.

  • 7 10-25-2009 at 2:48 pm

    redcupbluecup said...

    My Big Fat Greek Wedding . . . Paranormal Activity . . . who else is in the “came from nowhere to make big money” family? Blair Witch obviously . . . does Juno count? (I’m thinking sub 10-mil pics, though obviously Juno had more names and money attached to it than either of the three aforementioned fiilms.)

  • 8 10-25-2009 at 3:23 pm

    Morgan said...

    I hope Paramount enjoys the windfall because I doubt they have a profitable franchise with Paranormal Activity. See My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Blair Witch: one-hit wonders.

  • 9 10-25-2009 at 3:25 pm

    Marshall said...

    There isn’t a single sold-out showing of “This Is It” in my town…I don’t get the feeling that many people outside of his die-hard fan base are that excited.

    But it could just be me.

  • 10 10-25-2009 at 4:09 pm

    j said...

    American Graffiti: less than 1 mil budget; over 100 mil BO
    Snow White: 1.5 million; 185 million. Adjusted, the latter is 783 million. So about 6 million budget adjusted I suppose.
    Rocky Horror: 1.2 mil; 113 mil.
    Rocky: 1.1; 117.
    Gone with the Wind: 3.9; 199. Also top movie of all time.

  • 11 10-25-2009 at 4:21 pm

    david said...

    Saw Wild Things this weekend…and was very impressed. Genuine movie magic at work. It captured childhood in an amazing, and realistic light.

    My second favorite film of the year so far after The Hurt Locker. Going to see A Serious Man later in the week. Can’t wait.

  • 12 10-25-2009 at 4:36 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I think Paranormal joins Blair Witch and Greek Wedding and maybe Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but that’s it. Other indie films are lucky to crack $10 mil and the only other modern era films that have made this type of money are ones with at least some stars in them.

  • 13 10-25-2009 at 5:23 pm

    entertainmenttoday.. said...

    Im not buying the Michael Jackson HUGE opening on Wed.


  • 14 10-25-2009 at 5:37 pm

    Chase K. said...

    I can think of a million things I’d rather do than see “This is It”.

  • 15 10-25-2009 at 8:36 pm

    Bob McBob said...

    why are you such a Michael Jackson fan? you seem like such a miserable and depressed man

  • 16 10-25-2009 at 11:10 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Who me? I’m a big fan because he made three killer albums that I’ve listened to my whole life. Not sure how that makes me miserable or depressed but I guess I can not count on your $10 going towards that $100 mil.

  • 17 10-26-2009 at 1:34 am

    Sound Designer Dan said...

    “He made Thriller. Thriller.”

  • 18 10-26-2009 at 4:42 am

    Glenn said...

    Movies like “Crouching Tiger” and “Juno” don’t really count since their platform release was entirely deliberate and planned, where as something like “Paranormal” and “Wedding” really came from nowhere and gradually chugged along until they hit paydirt.

  • 19 10-26-2009 at 5:04 am

    "Julianstark" said...

    Dang! Amelia debuting outside of the Top Ten! THAT’S BAD! Cirque du Freak didn’t do too hot either. Glad to see Paranormal top the box office.

  • 20 10-26-2009 at 6:51 am

    Ben M. said...

    I think “This is It” may well cross beyond the die-hard fanbase, I’m just a casual fan and I plan on seeing it while I also know some people who didn’t care for Michael Jackson at all and are interested because of the hype.

  • 21 10-26-2009 at 7:36 am

    DHE said...

    I think they’re making a big mistake releasing This is It so soon after his death. It would have been better to release perhaps on the one year anniversary or thereabouts. Interest in celebrity deaths goes in cycles, I think people have moved on from MJ for the time being.

  • 22 10-29-2009 at 5:23 pm

    James D. said...

    I don’t want to sound mean-spirited, but how could you be so far off with This is It? You said 40 million on Wednesday, Box Office Mojo says it made about 7.45.