Weekend Preview (10.22.10)

It’s that time of the year again. We’re in the horror-dominated block of the fall season and things are kicking off with a sequel to last year’s sneak-attack low-budget hit, “Paranormal Activity.” Oddly, it will be coupled with Clint Eastwood’s supernatural drama “Hereafter.”

The original “Paranormal Actiity” was made for $15,000 and grossed nearly $200 million worldwide. Paramount distributed the “found footage”  style film on in on-demand basis, meaning fans requested the film in their cities. Originally released in 12 theaters, four weeks later it made $21 million in fewer than 2,000 theaters and took number one at the box office. It was a no-brainer for Paramount to capitalize and turn a sequel around in a year, hiring Hollywood freelance talents in need of work to craft the film. Today, the sequel will release in nearly 3,000 theaters and we shall see if the first was all buzz or really sucked in some fans.

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Paranormal Activity 2

Directed by Tod Williams
Written by Michael R. Perry, Oren Peli (characters)
Starring: Katie Featherston

The Word: After the first film was a phenomenon made for $15,000, Paramount churned out a quick sequel to make bank this Halloween season. In the sequel, a family sets up security cameras thinking someone is continually breaking into their house. Turns out they were somewhat correct.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87% (great)

My Thoughts: The original was freaky, but more so it was expertly paced and suspenseful. It’s hard to imagine Hollywood taking the reigns and making it better as opposed to more over-the-top, but not impossible. Early buzz suggests fans won’t be disappointed.

Recommendation: Unless you need some closure with “Saw 3D” next week, this is probably the best horror ticket of the season.


Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Peter Morgan
Starring: Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jay Mohr, Richard Kind

The Word: Clint Eastwood’s project this year reunites him with Matt Damon (an Oscar-nominated combo for “Invictus”) for a supernatural drama about three different people who are dealing with death/loss and the medium (Damon) they seek in hopes of reconnecting.

Rotten Tomatoes: 53% (mixed)

My Thoughts: Eastwood churns out a film a year and probably will until he face his own mortality, but with that potential for greatness on a yearly basis comes the greater probability for a miss. “Hereafter” has straight up divided critics, but with a script by Peter Morgan and Eastwood’s touch, I say glass half full.

Recommendation: Seems like an ideal DVD watch as we’re not looking at one of Eastwood’s Oscar contenders.

Box Office Predictions

I knew “Jackass 3-D” would win the box office last week, but a fall weekend opening record with $50 million? Wow. Now the real test becomes how well it can hold up. I’m imagining that most of the people who saw the film went because they like the series and that the high weekend total won’t necessarily get more people who might not otherwise go into the theaters to see it. So I’m going to take Paranormal Activity 2 just over Jackass 3-D.

When it comes to October horror movie box office phenomena, the Saw franchise is the barometer and the first several sequels to the orginal made $30-plus million. I anticipate that much for “Activity.” Taking a near-50 percent hit, I’ve got “Jackass” penciled in for $25-28 million.

Good films this fall have faired well in repeat weeks, so safe to put RED in the $12-15 million category. The rest of the films that should finish in or near the top five have also been positively reviewed, which will make it tough for our other newcomer. I’m going to say The Social Network will finish fourth with $7 million and that Hereafter will slide in just below with $6-7 million. It’s definitely a soft estimate for an Eastwood film, but buzz and awareness was stronger for “Invictus” last year and that made $8 million. “Secretariat” should be edged by a nose finishing low side of $6 million.

  1. Paranormal Activity 2
  2. Jackass 3-D
  3. RED
  4. The Social Network
  5. Hereafter


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