"Paranormal 3" breaks records at weekend box office

Sun Oct 23, 2011 2:45pm EDT
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Horror movie "Paranormal Activity 3" jolted awake a sleepy movie box office with an estimated $80 million in global ticket sales over the weekend.

The third installment of the low-budget haunted house movies topped domestic charts with $54 million from U.S. and Canadian theaters, the highest-grossing domestic debut for a horror film and a record for an October release.

The movie added $26 million from international markets over the weekend, distributor Paramount Pictures said on Sunday.

Like the first two films in the series, "Paranormal 3" was released just before Halloween and produced on a budget tiny by Hollywood standards. The latest movie, the most expensive of the trio, cost $5 million to make.

The film opened with after-midnight showings on Thursday night and easily beat the studio's forecast for a domestic debut of around $35 million. The movie is a prequel about two young sisters and their creepy encounters with an invisible presence in their home, all recorded by surveillance cameras.

A largely positive response from critics helped bring in an older-than-25 crowd in addition to the teenagers and young adults who usually flock to horror flicks, said Don Harris, Paramount's president of domestic distribution.

"This is the best of the series. It was well-reviewed," Harris said, adding that "people like to be scared in a Hitchcock-ian way. This isn't a bloody franchise."

The film's strong performance boosted a sluggish box office that has limped along sharply below last year for several weekends this fall following a record summer. This weekend's top 12 films grossed 45 percent more than last weekend's, although 6 percent less than the same weekend a year ago, according to figures from Hollywood.com Box Office.   Continued...