After two strong box office weeks at the nation’s theaters, the industry is hoping to keep the momentum going with two newcomers and a slew of strong holdovers.
First up is the fourth installment of the highly profitable Paranormal Activity franchise, which has taken in a staggering $575 million-plus at the worldwide box office to date. The first film was a surprise hit along the lines of The Blair Witch Project and with a reported budget of just $15,000, the film used viral marketing to propel itself from a limited release opening weekend of $77,873 in just 12 theaters to a wide release in its fourth weekend that generated nearly $20 million.
The film ultimately earned $107.9 million at the domestic box office and made writer/director/producer Oren Peli a low-budget superstar. The second and third installments were also huge hits (Paranormal 2 $40.7M opening/$84.7M Dom Total – Paranormal 3 $52.6M opening/$104M Dom total). This fourth installment, though showing indications of posting a lowest of franchise wide-release debut, should nonetheless scare up a No. 1 debut with an expected $30 plus million this weekend.
Ben Affleck’s Iranian hostage crisis drama Argo from Warner Bros. has benefited from huge word-of-mouth as manifested in solid post-weekend grosses that have placed it in the top spot every day this week. A very minimal second weekend drop should land it in second place with a probable mid-teen gross and a continued run toward the inevitable date with Oscar. The film features a solid ensemble cast, including Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, and Tate Donovan. Argo continues to be a “must-see” movie and should capitalize on this in the coming weeks with discerning movie fans looking for a "cinematic fine dining experience.”
Also opening this weekend is Lionsgate’s crime thriller Alex Cross starring Madea’s Tyler Perry in a very different kind of role as a homicide detective who becomes embroiled in an intense cat-and-mouse game with a seriously out of control and vicious serial killer also played against type by Matthew Fox. The PG-13 film boasts a terrific trailer that showcases the atypical performances from the two leads and promises a roller coaster ride for the audience. An expected low teen debut is expected to land it in the thick of the top 3.
Twentieth Century Fox’s Taken 2 held the top spot for two weekends in a row and continues strong as it approaches its third weekend in release. Sixty-year-old star Liam Neeson’s brand of revenge-driven action has truly struck a chord with audiences who seemingly can’t get enough of him in this type of role. He is truly AARP’s answer to the younger action stars; another $10 million or so in the retirement fund will push the film over the $100 million mark this weekend.
Fifth place will likely find two films in a major tug-of-war with grosses in the $9 to $10 million range with the second weekend of Lionsgate’s horror-entry Sinister going up against Sony Pictures Animation’s $100 million box office family hit Hotel Transylvania in its fourth weekend of release.
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures