Weekend Box Office: Audiences Possessed By Paranormal Activity 3

By Chris Kavan - 10/23/11 at 11:48 PM CT

You know it's getting close to Halloween because audiences are hungry for horror. And it just so happens there was a new horror movie released this weekend! Isn't that a lovey coincidence?

It appears the Paranormal Activity franchise doesn't have to worry about a thing - operating on a $5 million budget, the third movie (a prequel to the first two films) took in $54 million over the weekend, easily taking the top spot. That not only represents the best October opening (beating out last year's Jackass 3-D as best fall opening) it represents the highest opening gross for a straight-up horror movie.

It easily topped the opening of Paranormal Activity 2 ($40.7 million) and even though the movie was front-loaded, with 48.6% of its total coming on Friday, the one thing this total means is that there is sure to be a Paranormal Activity 4 next year. Well, something had to take the place of Saw as the Halloween franchise of choice and until audiences really get sick of these films, I don't see them changing the formula.

The two other new wide-release films couldn't hold a candle to what goes bump in the night: The Three Musketeers first foray into 3D landed with a whimper in 4th place with just $8.8 million (55% of that gross coming from 3D). It couldn't top either Zorro ($16.3 million) or even The Musketeer ($10.3 million) in opening numbers. Despite the fact audiences were split between male and female, the movie played to an older crowd (64% over the age of 25), which won't help its numbers in the future.

While international audiences may be giving it some love, the spy spoof sequel Johnny English Reborn didn't find much support in the U.S. With an 8th place $3.8 million total, Rowan Atkinson can be happy the film has already earned over $100 million on outside the U.S..

Other films showed some surprising legs. Real Steel snagged the second spot with $11.3 million - down just over 30% in its third week. The boxing robot flick has earned $67.2 million since its run began, a tidy sum by any standards.

In third place, Footloose also held quite well. Down just over 30% as well, the remake took in $10.8 million and now stands at $30.8 million - already topping its $24 million budget. While the debut may not have been stellar, its second week drop was much lower than comparative dance films Stomp the Yard, Step Up and Save the Last Dance.

Rounding out the top five was political drama The Ides of March, which also held up well, dropping just over 31% to take in $4.9 million for a three-week total of $29.1 million.

Dolphin Tale and Moneyball are running neck-and-neck for total grosses. Moneyball won the week for best week-to-week holdover, dropping just 25.8%, however Dolphin Tale still won the box office race (also dropping a respectable 32.6%). The family-friendly film was 6th with a $4.2 million take for a $64.4 million total while Moneyball was just behind with a $4 million $63.7 million total.

Next week has four very distinct offerings: a family film with Puss in Boots, a sci-fi thriller In Time, the drama about who really wrote Shakespeare Anonymous and finally the delightful strangeness that is sure to be Johnny Depp's The Rum Diary. With Halloween still to come, we'll see if Paranormal Activity 3 can still retain the top spot for at least one more week or if audiences has already had their fill.

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