Horror "Insidious" the year's most profitable film

Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:57pm EDT
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By Pamela McClintock

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - They say lightning doesn't strike twice.

Don't tell that to the trio behind "Paranormal Activity," whose microbudgeted haunted-house follow-up "Insidious" is crossing the $50 million mark globally and could double that by the time it leave theaters.

That would give the indie horror picture, made for under $1.5 million, the best cost-to-gross ratio of the year, a good measurement of profitability.

"Insidious" has taken in $44.5 million in North America after four weekends, and roughly $4.5 million in Russia and two smaller territories (final figures are still being determined). It opens in the U.K. and Brazil this weekend. Based on its performance so far, those involved with the film say "Insidious" should reach $90 million globally, and probably more.

The key players who backed the film -- Jason Blum, Oren Peli and Steven Schneider -- stand to make millions. While it won't make the $193 million grossed by "Paranormal" globally in 2009, no one is complaining.

"It shows that there is still a market for quality genre movies, and that it is possible to make film on a micro-budget," Blum told The Hollywood Reporter.

For years, studios have tried in fits and starts to make genre movies at a nominal cost. But it's been a challenge. Paramount's microbudget division Insurge Pictures had great success earlier this year with "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," which cost $13 million to produce and has grossed $95 million worldwide. Paramount formed Insurge after the runaway success of "Paranormal Activity," which the studio distributed domestically.

Blum, Peli and Schneider produced "Insidious" via their Haunted Movies banner, which has a five-picture financing deal with Canadian distributor Alliance. Sony picked up all U.S. rights at the Toronto Film Festival last year for under $1 million, and in turn gave the film to its fledgling distribution partner FilmDistrict.

Directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell, both "Saw" veterans, "Insidious" stars Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne as a couple who move into an old house with their two young sons and a new baby. The producers were able to keep the production budget down by convincing the talent to take deferred payments.

Critics liked the film, and word-of-mouth among audiences has ensured that weekend business has never dropped more than 30 percent. By contrast, the $40 million-budgeted "Scream 4" plunged 62 percent in its second weekend, and will be lucky to crack $50 million.