Box Office Report: "Paranormal Activity 4" In Front; "Argo" Holds Strong

It seemed safe to assume that following in the footsteps of the previous three installments, "Paranormal Activity 4" would have a relatively easy road to the number one spot this weekend. Nothing from last week (or any of the weeks before, for that matter) had high enough totals to keep up, and nothing else releasing this week had even close to as much firepower as PA4 could provide.

This all was the case, and even though the total numbers for the film were quite a bit lower than expected (makes you think PA5 might be old news if/when it ever gets a release), it was still able to hold on with little other true competition. "Alex Cross" provided less than expected, but "Argo" and "Hotel Transylvania" both outdid their projections. "Sinister", on the other hand, felt the pain of having another paranormal film release just one week after it, and saw the biggest drop amongst all of last week's films.

"Paranormal Activity 4" made $30.2MM this week in what will be considered a "failure". PA2 made $40MM in its opening weekend, while PA3 made a whopping $52MM. No one expected this film to match those numbers, but $30MM is a much bigger drop than expected. Even still though, you can't take this one too much out of perspective. At the end of the day, the film still had only a $5MM budget, and made $30MM in three days. All three previous films have played to roughly $100MM domestic totals and $100MM international totals, all with budgets of $5MM or less. As a franchise, the film has invested about $14MM into four films and made over $650MM. I honestly can't expect the studio is too concerned about making $5MM or so less this weekend than what was expected. If anything, it just marks a more extreme decline in interest for the continued franchise and might mean one less total film than we'll ultimately get (maybe the well runs dry on PA7 compared to PA8).

The film has already opened with $26MM overseas, giving it a worldwide gross of over $57MM in its three days. Reviews don't look good, but it doesn't seem like it should slow this film too much. It might not ultimately get to the $200MM worldwide watermark that the other films hit, but at the end of the day, this film is already a huge financial success, regardless of what happens from here.

In second place this weekend was "Argo" with $16.6MM. The biggest surprise here is that the film dropped only 14% from last week, something nearly unheard of for wide-released films (that's actually the second-best hold ever for a live-action film in more than 3,000 theaters). These were easily the best holds of anything in the top fifteen this week, and it resulted in a strong finish for the film. That now brings the lifetime total for the film up to $43MM, just a million or so shy of its $44.5MM budget. As I mentioned last week, don't expect this to do much of anything overseas, so what it makes here in the States is what it's going to have to live off. Reviews have been amazing for the film though - even up one more percent to 95% from last week - so hopefully good word-of-mouth with help this one continue to strong totals.

The film still has a ways to go before it appears in any top-grossing heist/hostage/spy lists, but we'll see what things look like next week. This was one of my favorite films of the year, and I'm glad to see it succeeding. I definitely recommend checking this one out.

In third this week, which was also a bit of a surprise, was "Hotel Transylvania" with $13.5MM. This little film just won't stop! Now in its fourth week, the film managed only a 21% drop, good for the second best this weekend, and again, fairly unprecedented numbers - especially for a film in its fourth week. The domestic totals for the film are now up to $119MM, and with foreign gains of $68MM, it now has a total gross of just over $187MM. It's budget was $85MM, so it has now more than doubled its investment, making this a strong player for Sony. It's the second highest-grossing pure animated picture that Sony has released, only $5MM behind "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs".

In the fourth spot was "Taken 2", which managed $13.4MM. Outside of "Sinister" (49%), "Taken 2" suffered the worst drops of anything else in the top ten (38%). I will admit that the film has fallen off a bit slower than expected, but it's still definitely been one of the biggest droppers in each of its previous two weekends. The film does pass the $100MM mark with its gross this weekend though, bringing its domestic totals up to $105MM. Pair that with its $174MM international gross and you have a total of just over $280MM. This is much more than you'd expect from a film that's received a lowly 21% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is what it is. With a $45MM budget, this film has been an even bigger success than the first film, already up nearly $60MM on what the last film made in total.

Rounding out the top five was "Alex Cross", the other wide release opening this weekend. The film made $11.7MM this weekend, and while that' a touch lower than what I expected, it isn't by much. The film's reviews fell off the table in the past week or two, falling all the way down to a current 13%. The film is in-line with the previous Alex Cross films though, but at the bottom of the totem pole. Both "Kiss the Girls" and "Along Came a Spider" opened with less than $20MM in their opening weekends as well, and neither managed to bank more than $75MM total in their theater runs. Reviews were better for both film, but still nothing better than a low-30%. "Alex Cross" has a budget of $35MM, and while I expect it shouldn't have many issues getting past those numbers, it looks as if it will finish third amongst all of the Alex Cross films, meaning it'll probably bottom-out around $50MM or so. That's not great, but at least it shouldn't lose money.

Outside of the top five, "Sinister" dropped the hardest, but even with its $9MM this weekend, it's now made over $30MM total, and with a budget of only $3MM, that's already ten times its original investment. Hard to have many complaints there.

In terms of milestones this weekend, I don't see anything particularly of note, so check out the full numbers for the weekend below, courtesy of Box Office Mojo: