Oct. 19 - 'Paranormal Activity 4' Vs. 'Alex Cross'
The now-perennial Paranormal Activity franchise is back with a fourth installment which is once again timed to generally coincide with Halloween. The last movie set a new October opening weekend record last year with $52.6 million, on its way to $104 million (just a bit off from the series high of $107.9 million). Paranormal Activity 4 promises more of the same scares, and Paramount has a knack for marketing this particular franchise. It is important to remember, though, that many franchises start to see declining grosses by the fourth chapter—Saw, for example, fell 21 percent from three to four—and the same fate may be inevitable for Paranormal Activity.
The only movie brave enough to face Paranormal Activity 4 is Alex Cross, which stars Tyler Perry as the titular detective. Cross was previously portrayed by Morgan Freeman in 1997's Kiss the Girls ($60.5 million) and 2001's Along Came a Spider ($74.1 million), and Alex Cross appears to up-the-ante quite a bit in the thrills department. It remains unclear, though, if audiences are interested in seeing Perry outside the fat suit—Good Deeds earned a weak $35 million earlier this year—and the all-consuming nature of Paranormal Activity 4 may be too much for this movie to bear.
October 26 - 'Paranormal Activity' Hangover
None of the nationwide releases in the final weekend of October have major box office potential, and there's a good chance that Paranormal Activity 4 will hang on to the top spot.
Cloud Atlas has the most buzz a month ahead of its release, and the striking visuals put together by directors Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix series) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) should be enough to draw some attention. Unfortunately, reviews are mixed at this point, and the unique narrative structure (six stories in different time frames) is already proving to be a marketing challenge. This all calls to mind Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, which bombed with just $10.2 million in 2006. Cloud Atlas will definitely do better than that, though the odds are it won't really connect with mainstream audiences.
Gerard Butler stars as surfing legend Jay Moriarity's mentor in biopic Chasing Mavericks. The movie appears to have a pretty standard inspirational sports structure, and it should be appealing among surfing fans. Unfortunately, the highest-grossing live-action surfing movie ever is last April's Soul Surfer at a modest $43.8 million, which is probably the high-mark for Chasing Mavericks.
The wild card this weekend is Fun Size, which is a Halloween-themed movie that doesn't involve brutal violence or supernatural scares. Instead, Fun Size is a comedy surrounding a group of high-schoolers who lose a much-younger sibling while out trick-or-treating on Halloween. The trailer gives off an Adventures in Babysitting/John Hughes vibe, and younger teenage audiences could turn this one in to a modest hit.
Silent Hill: Revelation arrives in theaters a full six years after the original Silent Hill earned a decent $47 million. The sequel was independently produced, and is probably intended more for an international audience craving 3D horror thrills than for the domestic audience that probably can't even remember the first movie very well. With Paranormal Activity 4 likely still on a roll, Silent Hill: Revelation will probably be a miss.