Remember when this blog post asked whether the found-footage horror genre was getting stale?
Well, apparently that question is now decidedly moot.
“Paranormal Activity 3” — the third candid-and-creepy-camera movie about a demonic force that haunts a pair of sisters — made $54 million at the box office this weekend, setting a record for the strongest horror opening and the biggest September-October debut of all time, according to Box Office Mojo.
The other new, wide releases — “The Three Musketeers,” which made a dismal $8.8 million, and “Johnny English Reborn,” which did even worse with just $3.8 million — as well as holdover runners-up such as “Real Steel” and “Footloose” did not come close to equaling “Paranormal’s” ticket-selling success.
So does this mean a sequel, or a prequel to this latest prequel, which was a prequel to the original “Paranormal Activity,” is on the horizon?
Paramount Pictures has not greenlighted another film, but that doesn’t sound entirely out of the question.
The studio’s vice-chairman, Rob Moore, told the Hollywood Reporter that “there’s no ‘Paranormal Activity 4’ currently in development, but that ‘people certainly continue to be very interested in the franchise.’ ”
Translation: If this movie continues to do well at the box office through Halloween weekend, expect to see another one next October.
So what is it that attracts audiences to these films when other horror movies (see last weekend’s listless “The Thing” and the equally lackluster “Dream House”) tank?
Part of it may be timing. As the “Saw” films successfully did for a while, “Paranormal Activity” has turned itself into a Halloween tradition.
But perhaps above all else, these movies are just much more satisfying when seen in a multiplex. Much of the tension of the “Paranormal Activity” comes from not knowing where the next scream will come from.
When I saw the first “Paranormal Activity,” audience members were actively squirming in their seats and shrieking at random (and, admittedly, totally unnecessary) times, which added to the unnerving nature of the experience.
So maybe “Paranormal Activity” isn’t a success as a franchise because of its clever viral marketing, or even its found footage approach. Maybe that third film won the weekend because it gives moviegoers the feeling that they’re not merely going to a movie. They’re going to a good, old-fashioned haunted house, where the next fright could come from not just any corner of the screen, but any corner of the stadium-seat-filled theater.
Do you think “Paranormal Activity 3” can win the box office again next weekend? After perusing the list of the weekend’s top five movies, vote in our box office prediction poll below.
1. “Paranormal Activity 3” — $54 million
2. “Real Steel” — $11.3 million
3. “Footloose” — $10.8 million
4. “The Three Musketeers” — $8.8 million
5. “The Ides of March” — $4.9 million