Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 10-15-12

Star of “Paranormal Activity 4” Kathryn Newton

Star of “Paranormal Activity 4” Kathryn Newton

“Paranormal Activity 4” – In theaters October 19th

“Paranormal Activity 4” – In theaters October 19th

“Paranormal” power: You don’t have to believe in supernatural forces to recognize the effect they’re having at the boxoffice.

To begin with, there’s Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment’s R rated horror thriller “Sinister,” which opened solidly in third place last weekend to $18.3 million. That’s even better than it sounds because the picture only cost about $3 million to produce. Its $7,222 per screen average was higher than both of the weekend’s top two titles – “Taken 2” ($6,081) and “Argo” ($6,225).

“Sinister” performed way better than expected. It looked like it was going to open decently – but not with this kind of strength — as it was tracking in mid-single digits as an overall first choice. It tracked best and equally well with 25-plus males and under-25 females.

The film’s opening weekend audience turned out to be 54 percent male and 53 percent over-25, according to Lionsgate and Summit. That’s unusual because it’s more male and more adult than horror thrillers usually play.

Scott Derrickson, who directed “Sinister,” is best known for directing the 2008 sci-fi remake “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and the 2005 horror thriller “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”

“Sinister’s” producing credits are even more interesting in terms of their horror thriller credentials. Producers Jason Blum and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones have both been around the horror thriller track with great success for years.

Through his Blumhouse Productions, Blum produced the original 2009 surprise boxoffice smash “Paranormal Activity” on a shoestring indie budget and then sold it to Paramount Pictures, which turned it into an online marketing driven blockbuster.

Blum went on to produce the R rated Paramount franchise’s hit sequels “Paranormal Activity 2” (2010) and “Paranormal Activity 3” (2011) as well as the latest episode “Paranormal Activity 4,” opening this weekend at 3,000-plus theatres – including about 300 IMAX digital theatres starting at 9 p.m. on Th., Oct. 18.

“Paranormal 4” is expected to have a powerful impact at the boxoffice and is facing competition from only one other new wide release – Lionsgate’s PG-13 rated mystery “Alex Cross,” directed by Rob Cohen (“The Fast and the Furious”) and starring Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox and Rachel Nichols.

“Paranormal 4,” which takes place five years after the conclusion of “Paranormal 2,” is directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman and stars Katie Featherston (who starred in the franchise’s first three episodes), Bradley Allen and Matt Shivley. The latest episode’s scares include a teen girl alone in a big house with an ominous child lurking outside in the darkness.

“Paranormal 4’s” been tracking in the high single digits as an overall first choice for moviegoers. It’s tracking best with under-25 females, traditionally the biggest audience for horror thrillers, and nearly as well with under-25 males.

Joost and Schulman previously directed “Paranormal 3,” which reportedly cost $5 million to produce. It opened Oct. 21, 2011 to $52.6 million and went on to gross $104 million domestically.

“Paranormal 2,” which was made for an estimated $3 million, opened Oct. 22, 2010 to $40.7 million and ultimately did $84.8 million domestically.

The original “Paranormal,” said to have cost only $15,000 to produce, was made in 2007 and played that October at the Screamfest Film Festival. It was subsequently purchased by Paramount for only a few hundred thousand dollars and opened Sept. 25, 2009 in limited release to $77,873. It went wide Oct. 16, 2009 with $19.6 million and ended up grossing $107.9 million domestically.

Blum also produced through his Blumhouse Productions the PG-13 supernatural horror thriller “Insidious,” which opened April 1, 2011 via FilmDistrict to $13.3 million and did $54 million domestically. “Insidious” reportedly cost only $1.5 million to make.

Bottom line: With “Sinister” off and running and “Paranormal 4” arriving, supernatural forces are powering the boxoffice.