Friday A.M. Update: Paranormal Activity 3 earned an estimated $8 million from midnight screenings at 2,200 locations last night. That's a marked improvement over Paranormal Activity 2, which earned $6.3 million from 1,800 theaters at midnight.
Forecast: After a few quiet weeks, Paranormal Activity 3 looks to provide the jolt needed to bring the box office back to life. At the very least, the horror three-quel shouldn't have any trouble hitting the top spot against mild competition from The Three Musketeers, Johnny English Reborn and The Mighty Macs. Paranormal Activity 3 is set to haunt around 4,500 screens at 3,321 locations, while The Three Musketeers battles on roughly 3,800 screens at 3,017 locations (a 3D theater count is not currently available). Johnny English Reborn and The Mighty Macs have much lighter releases, hitting 1,551 and 975 mostly single-screen locations, respectively.
Coming off the enormous success of the first Paranormal Activity ($107.9 million), Paranormal Activity 2 debuted to a huge $40.7 million on the same weekend last October. It wasn't as well received as the first installment, though, and horror movies generally haven't been performing over the last few months, so a slight decline for the third chapter in the series can be expected. At the same time, there was a slight uptick from Saw II to Saw III (which basically had the same release date), so there is a chance Paranormal Activity 3 exceeds its predecessor. Paramount is expecting a mid-$30 million opening followed by a better hold than Paranormal Activity 2 given the lack of horror competition (Paranormal Activity 2 faced Saw 3D in its second weekend).
The U.S. is just one of many territories for The Three Musketeers and Johnny English Reborn. Both have already been playing for a while overseas and have so far earned over $50 million and $90 million, respectively. The Three Musketeers has received a stronger marketing push, though, and its swashbuckling nature brings with it higher expectations. With the redundant story (this is the at least the third version of the Musketeer story in the past 20 years) and the oddly anachronistic effects, though, it's going to struggle to break out. A Summit spokesperson said that the movie is tracking best with older males and is in line for a low double-digits opening.
The first Johnny English movie opened to $9.1 million on its way to $28.1 million in 2003. It was the strong $133 million foreign performance, though, along with star Rowan Atkinson's enduring worldwide popularity, that prompted the sequel. Johnny English Reborn is opening at fewer locations and looks like a retread of the first go-around, so it's going to be tough to reach the first one's numbers. No matter—a Universal spokesman anticipates the movie will ultimately earn at least $200 million worldwide anyway.
After being shelved for a few years, basketball drama The Mighty Macs is hitting theaters with the aim to reach the faith-based audience that drove Courageous to a $9.1 million opening last month. It doesn't have the same marketing muscle behind it, nor do the filmmakers have the same brand recognition within the Christian community, so a debut closer to last month's Seven Days in Utopia ($1.3 million from 561 locations) is more likely.
Paranormal Activity 3 is leading the way in Box Office Mojo's "When Will You See It" polling with over 23 percent of users opting for opening weekend. That's actually a slight improvement over Paranormal Activity 2 (20.3 percent). The Three Musketeers tallied a solid 16 percent opening weekend score, which is identical to Fall 2005's The Legend of Zorro. Johnny English Reborn scored an 11 percent, up from Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean's Holiday (9.6 percent), while The Mighty Macs barely registered with just 3 percent.
Weekend Forecast (Oct. 21-23) 1. Paranormal Activity 3 - $39 million 2. The Three Musketeers - $11.3 million 3. Real Steel - $9.8 million 4. Footloose - $8.3 million 5. Johnny English Reborn - $7.1 million -. The Mighty Macs - $1.1 million
Bar for Success Considering three-quels usually struggle to maintain series momentum, Paranormal Activity 3 needs at least $30 million to get a pass. With a very wide release, 3D premiums and a healthy marketing push, The Three Musketeers needs to reach $15 million, while Johnny English Reborn will be fine with slightly less than the first one's $9.1 million. The Mighty Macs ought to hit at least $3 million to justify its wide release.