Analysis: The first Paranormal Activity was a sleeper success that became one of the higher-grossing entries in the popular supernatural horror sub-genre ($107.9 million), and it surged in the weeks leading up to Halloween, goring the seasonal Saw movie in the process. Though Saw VI only grossed $27.7 million, distributor Lionsgate green-lighted Saw VII 3D for the franchise's typical Halloween launch. Then, in a game of chicken, Paramount announced Paranormal Activity 2 for the same Oct. 22 weekend as Saw VII. Paramount even hired Saw VI director Kevin Greutert, but Lionsgate fired back by exercising an option in their contract to have Greutert direct Saw VII, leaving Paranormal 2 without a director at the time of this writing.
Last August, there was a contentious weekend when both The Final Destination and Halloween II (2009) debuted, and, while it wasn't a total bloodbath, the stronger franchise did prevail: The Final Destination (buoyed by 3D) opened to $27.4 million versus Halloween II's $16.3 million, and ultimately had twice the gross: $66.5 million compared to $33.3 million.
Someone may flinch this time, but it's likely all for naught: Saw's on the wane, and Paranormal Activity 2 is unlikely to repeat its predecessor's success even under the best of circumstances.
Horror sequels, with the notable exception of Saw, typically make a fraction of their predecessors. It's difficult to scare people the same way twice, and Saw only sustained itself with its thriller elements and twisty plots. Check out the drops in grosses from The Ring to The Ring Two, from The Grudge to The Grudge 2 and, most notably, The Blair Witch Project to Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. The first Blair Witch was a sensation, grossing $140.5 million back in 1999. Its 2000 sequel, though, managed just $26.4 million.
The first Paranormal Activity's pattern was eerily similar to the first Blair Witch Project, though not nearly as popular. Both were micro-budget, "found footage" supernatural horrors that impressed in limited release, exploded as they rolled out nationwide and, then, flamed out quickly after hitting nationwide release, marred by mixed word-of-mouth. Both also fooled many people into thinking they were real, but the jig is up and all signs point to Paranormal Activity being as ephemeral a horror event as Blair Witch, which does not bode well for its sequel.
• 'Paranormal' Rages, 'Saw' Dulls
• 'Wild Things' Roars, 'Paranormal Activity' Thrills
• 'Couples Retreat' Advances, 'Paranormal Activity' Spikes
• 'Grudge' Budges in Popularity
• 'Ring Two' Opens Well
• 'Blair Witch 2' Analysis
Similar Movies: Paranormal Activity, The Blair Witch Project, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, The Grudge, The Grudge 2, The Haunting in Connecticut, The Ring, The Ring Two
Related Chart: Supernatural Horror
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