Weekend Report: 'Paranormal Activity 2' Spikes to Horror High
Paranormal Activity 2 delivered the highest-grossing opening weekend ever for a supernatural horror movie, while the other new supernaturally-themed entry, Hereafter, had a quieter launch. Overall business was up nearly 12 percent from the same weekend last year, when the first Paranormal Activity led.

Haunting approximately 4,500 screens at 3,216 locations, Paranormal Activity 2 drew $40.7 million, topping The Grudge's $39.1 million for supernatural supremacy in first weekend gross (though it ranked seventh in estimated attendance). The first Paranormal Activity opened nearly 13 months ago but had a slow roll-out into nationwide release. Its biggest single weekend was its fifth, generating $21.1 million at 1,945 locations.

Paranormal Activity 2 displayed better staying power than the oft-compared Blair Witch movies: it's already retained 38 percent of its predecessor's $107.9 million gross, while Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2's total retention of The Blair Witch Project was a mere 19 percent. It's also better off than The Grudge 2 versus the first Grudge. In its marketing, the Paranormal sequel stayed true to its predecessor's "found footage" format (which Blair Witch abandoned for its sequel), a style that's worked with recent titles like Cloverfield, Quarantine and The Last Exorcism.

With its Friday gross accounting for 49 percent of its weekend gross, Paranormal Activity 2 had the most Friday-loaded opening weekend on record for a horror movie. Nearly all other horror movies with similar Friday shares failed to double their opening weekend grosses in their final tallies, suggesting that Paranormal Activity 2 will have a quick flame-out and make less than its predecessor. Given the checkered history of supernatural horror sequels, though, simply retaining most of the first movie's audience would put Paranormal Activity 2 firmly in the win column. The movie's Friday included $6.3 million from its heavily-promoted midnight debut at around 1,800 locations, which not only broke Jackass 3-D's October midnight record ($2.5 million) but the R-rated midnight record formerly held by Watchmen ($4.55 million). Paranormal Activity 2 also played at 151 IMAX venues, which contributed an estimated $2.5 million to the weekend tally. Distributor Paramount Pictures' exit polling indicated that 54 percent of the audience was female and 61 percent was under 25 years old.

After a week of limited play, Hereafter expanded nationwide, showing on close to 2,500 screens at 2,181 locations, and grossed a not-so-sweet $12 million. Among comparable titles, that was less than The Lovely Bones' $17 million but greater than Changeling and Stir of Echoes. Hereafter's marketing relied mostly on shots of a tsunami and the name recognition of director Clint Eastwood and actor Matt Damon, but the ads did not reveal a story, instead striking a somber tone with a vague reference to Damon as a mystic reassuring people about the afterlife. According to distributor Warner Bros., 58 percent of the audience was female and 80 percent was over 30 years old.

True to its content, Jackass 3-D fell on its face in its second weekend, but, since its grosses have been at a high level, that still meant a solid $21.3 million. It was down 58 percent, while the first Jackass dropped 44 percent, and Jackass: Number Two tumbled 50 percent at the same point. Jackass 3-D's sum climbed to $86.9 million in ten days, flying past Number Two's $72.8 million to become the highest grosser of the franchise (though it has a ways to go to be tops in attendance). Again, 3D presentations accounted for around 90 percent of Jackass 3-D's business.

Red held well, off 31 percent to $15 million. The action comedy has posted $43.5 million in ten days, and it will soon surpass Cop Out's $44.9 million final total among similar titles.

Holdovers in general saw small drops. The Social Network showed more staying power, slowing 29 percent to $7.3 million for a $72.9 million tally in 24 days. Secretariat eased 25 percent to $7 million for a $37.4 million purse in 17 days, while Life as We Know It was close behind with $6.1 million for a $37.6 million 17-day sum, down 31 percent.

Last Weekend:

'Jackass' Crashes Into Fall Record

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2009 - 'Paranormal' Rages, 'Saw' Dulls

• 2008 - 'High School Musical' Cuts Footloose with 'Saw'

• 2007 - 'Saw IV' Loses Little Blood

• 2006 - 'Saw' Sharp in Third Outing

• 2005 - 'Saw II' Gores 'Zorro'

• 2004 - 'Grudge' Grabs Top Spot

Related Charts

Weekend Box Office Results

• Supernatural Horror Opening Weekends

• All Time October Opening Weekends

2010 Grosses