No stars. No budget. No big name directors. And barely a script. Still, the $3 million budgeted Paranormal Activity 2 racked up $41.5 million for the biggest horror movie opening ever.
I’m not complaining. Not only did Paranormal Activity 2 make me poop my drawers, but I’m happy with anything that costs $3 million and makes $41 that doesn’t involve volcanoes of feces. Granted, I wish it meant that the filmmakers used their powers of creativity to create something new, original, or inventive, but the Paranormal Activity sequel was basically a duplication of the first, which was basically a duplication of Blair Witch. But at least Oren Peli (who directed the first movie and produced the second) knew not to make the same mistake that the Blair Witch sequel made, although — to be fair — like everyone else, I never saw the Blair Witch sequel, so I have no idea what mistake that was.
So, how did Paranormal Activity 2 succeed where Blair Witch 2 failed?
Beats the hell out of me. Few people expected much from the sequel except a redo, and a redo is what they got. But it worked. And it worked without Brad Pitt, Michael Bay, Jessica Alba’s ass, or a series of explosions. The only explanation I can offer is that, besides Hereafter, it was the only option in theaters. It’s the Halloween season and people like to soil their undergarments during the Halloween season. Paranormal Activity 2 delivered, at least to the same people it worked on the first time around.
But we also understand even better — from Paranormal Activity 2 and last week’s Jackass 3D (which held the number two position, adding another $21 million to bring its cumulative to $87 million) — how subjective and divisive that art can be. You either hate or love Jackass and the same seems to hold true for Paranormal Activity. In both cases, at least we can say that we knew what to expect going in.
Meanwhile, that other wide opener, the Clint Eastwood directed Hereafter starring Matt Damon, put up a modest $12 million, and will probably end up in the $35 million range, similar to the last three Matt Damon efforts (Invictus, The Informant and The Green Zone). It looks like Matt Damon needs to make a blockbuster soon, lest he lose the clout that allows him to continue making films like these. In fact, if you take out the Oceans and Bourne films (and Good Will Hunting and The Departed), Matt Damon is not a particularly successful marquee star. But then again, it’s the Oceans and Bourne films that make him a successful marquee star.
This makes me sad.
Red also held well, dropping only 31 percent and putting up another $15 million, bringing its total to $47 million. Adult oriented movies represent! The Social Network hung around in the top five for another week, adding another $7 million to bring its total to a more than respectable $71 million.
Fun fact: I do believe that Katie Featherston has to be considered the best return on the investments in the history of film, considering that — after two films — she’s probably made less than $250,00, and she’s the star what looks to be like two $100 million films. How do you like them apples, Matt Damon?