Midnight Update:The Devil Inside scored a huge $2 million from around 1,400 locations at midnight. For comparison, The Last Exorcism earned around $750,000 from its midnight opening in August 2010 ahead of a $20.4 million weekend. It now looks like The Devil Inside should have no problem claiming the top spot at the box office this weekend with over $20 million.
With the glut of Christmas releases still monopolizing audiences, the first weekend of 2012's only brand-new nationwide release is Paramount Insurge's The Devil Inside. The supernatural thriller opens at 2,285 locations, and will try to wrestle first place from holiday hit Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Also, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will look to build on its strong limited run when it expands in to 809 theaters on Friday, and it should garner enough interest to crack the Top 10.
The Devil Inside is the second release from Paramount's Insurge label, which aims to produce and distribute micro-budget genre fare. Its first movie, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, didn't exactly fit this description, but it did make a pretty penny at $73 million. The Devil Inside, on the other hand, was made for less than $1 million, and fits firmly in to the ever-popular exorcism thriller genre. The movie seems to be inspired at least in part by the success of Lionsgate's The Last Exorcism, which was produced for less than $2 million but opened to $20.4 million in August 2010.
Following the barrage of big-budget action movies and serious Oscar dramas that usually hit theaters in December, the first weekend of January has proven to be a solid time to open schlocky horror movies. The most successful example in the past few years is 2005's White Noise ($24.1 million), though other solid performers include The Unborn ($19.8 million) and Hostel ($19.6 million) (last year's Season of the Witch could only muster $10.6 million, though its medieval setting surely held it back a bit). Paramount is only expecting The Devil Inside to open around $8 million, though online ticket seller Fandango is reporting that the movie is currently responsible for 31 percent of daily ticket sales. Those are impressive early sales figures, and should translate in to at least low-teen-millions for the weekend.
After earning over $4.5 million through four weeks in limited release, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy reaches nationwide release this weekend. Distributor Focus Features has recently had mild success with spy thrillers The American ($35.6 million) and The Debt ($31.2 million), and they also distributed Tinker author John Le Carre's The Constant Gardener ($33.5 million). It's tough to say right now if Tinker can also make it in to the low-$30 millions, especially considering it's high on talk and low on action and mainly stars older British actors.