October 20, 2012



Eventually, every franchise runs out of steam.  (Although they sometimes pick it up again, like Bond James Bond.)

OPENINGS:  PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (Par) is off to a worse start than the last two in the series (the original Paranormal followed a different release pattern and didn’t go wide until its 5th week in theatres).  A $30M weekend certainly means plenty of profit for the studio, but if the slide continues next year, it may be time for Paranormal Activity 3D.  Any hope that substantial numbers of Tyler Perry fans would turn up for his straight (as it were) action hero turn in ALEX CROSS (Summit/Lionsgate) have vanished, as the picture will be lucky to hit $12M for the weekend, lower than the $13.2M earned by Morgan Freeman’s turn as Cross in 1997’s Kiss the Girls, and also in line to be the lowest opening of Perry’s acting career.  Perry is successful and powerful enough to do anything he wants, but it’s hard to believe he’s going to want to keep this going as a franchise.

HOLDOVERS:  ARGO (Warners) had a spectacular hold, down only 14% from its opening day last week, and that margin will go down over the weekend because of the front-loading of opening days, so the picture should be down less than 10% for the weekend.  That means it should hold its theatres for quite a while, and the evident word of mouth is exactly what Warners will want Academy members to keep in mind as other awards titles flame out after bigger openings over the next couple of months.  HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (Sony) is also holding beautifully, down around 14% as it starts its 4th week in theatres.  The flop of Alex Cross was good news for TAKEN 2 (20th), which should only be down 40% for the weekend (although that’s nothing compared to the original Taken, which was down only 8% in its 3rd weekend).  SINISTER (Lionsgate) will be down around 55%, typical for a horror movie (especially with Paranormal 4 entering the market).  HERE COMES THE BOOM (Sony) is holding well, and should be down only 25% for the weekend–not enough to make it a hit, but at least it isn’t an embarrassment.  SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (CBS) should be down less than 25%, but its numbers are so low that they’re academic at this point.  PITCH PERFECT (Universal) could end up hitting an excellent $60M before it’s done.

LIMITED RELEASE:  THE SESSIONS (Fox Searchlight) is off to a strong but not overwhelming start, headed for around a $35K average in 4 theatres.  That per-theatre number will fall quickly once the picture starts expanding, so Searchlight will have to manage the release carefully to keep it on the awards scope.  THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (Summit/Lionsgate) is holding its own, basically even with last Friday after adding a few theatres to 745.

NEXT WEEKEND:  One of the biggest puzzles of the fall season is whether there will be an audience for the rousing but complex, nearly 3-hour spectacle CLOUD ATLAS (Warners).  Its competition will be far more standard:  inspirational surfing drama CHASING MAVERICKS (20th), teen comedy FUN SIZE (Paramount) and SILENT HILL: REVELATION (Open Road), which will attempt to pick up the last shreds of the Halloween horror audience (and may benefit from the decline of Paranormal Activity).

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."