LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Box-office expectations have levitated for the second installment in the low-budget "Paranormal Activity" franchise.
Production costs on "Paranormal Activity 2" also rose from the $15,000 in pocket change and candy wrappers spent to produce its predecessor, which ended up grossing $108 million at the North American box office last year. Paramount shelled out a whopping $1 million-plus to produce the follow-up, which opens Friday and is actually a prequel.
"Paranormal 2" looks likely to conjure $18 million-$22 million through Sunday. That should be plenty to justify marketing costs of $25 million or so, with foreign grosses and ancillary revenue also likely to be substantial.
Like the original, the prequel is expected to play mostly to younger crowds and skew a bit female. Unlike the first picture, "Paranormal 2" is expected to do most of its business during its opening weekend, which will be padded by screenings at midnight Thursday in most locations.
"Paranormal Activity" creeped into the marketplace with just $77,873 from 12 theaters during its low-profile launch last September. Within three weeks of that Internet-hyped limited bow, the micro-budgeted franchise-starter had widened to 760 theaters and $33 million in cumulative sales amid broadening buzz among more mainstream moviegoers.
The first "Paranormal" also copped $85.4 million in foreign lucre. "Paranormal 2" bows this week in 21 international territories.
As for whether it can open at No. 1, its main competition is a holdover from ... Paramount.
In fact, perhaps this weekend's most intriguing question among box-office watchers is whether the second-session decline for Paramount's "Jackass 3D" will prove as remarkably hefty as its surprising $50.4 million bow.
Such youthful and fan-driven movies often drop 65%-70% from their first-frame tallies, and there is little reason to believe the "Jackass" threequel will escape a similar fate. Paramount's scheduling of the "Paranormal 2" opening for this weekend suggests that its executives expect a quick burnout by the dangerous-pranks pic; a 70% drop would yield a $15 million frame and prevent "Jackass 3D" from repeating at No. 1.
Also this weekend, Warner Bros. widens Clint Eastwood's Matt Damon starrer "Hereafter" to 2,181 locations after one session of limited play. The fantasy-tinged drama rang up $220,322 from six theaters, or an auspicious $36,720 per venue.
As usual for Eastwood pics, "Hereafter" attracted mostly older audiences during its first frame. So in keeping with its established strategy, Warners will attempt to run a successful marathon built on a smattering of critical faves included among mixed-to-positive reviews of the film.