Paranormal Activity 4 took first place at the box office this weekend, though its comparatively underwhelming gross suggests audiences are growing tired of the perennial horror franchise. Alex Cross also missed the mark, though overall box office was still up at least 10 percent thanks to impressive holdover business from Argo and Hotel Transylvania.
The fourth installment in the Paranormal Activity scared up an estimated $30.2 million from 3,412 locations this weekend. For any other low-budget horror movie, this would be a fantastic start, but this franchise has established a track record, and with that track record comes expectations. On this same weekend last year, Paranormal Activity 3 set an October opening record with $52.6 million, while Paranormal Activity 2 debuted to $40.7 million the year before.
Of course, Paramount is still going to make truckloads of money on this movie, and a fifth installment is apparently on the way for next year. Still, without a miraculous second weekend hold (unlikely, given the movie's awful "C" CinemaScore) this is destined to be easily the lowest-grossing Paranormal Activity movie yet, which has to be disappointing.
The audience was split evenly between men and women, and skewed a bit younger (60 percent under the age of 25). The 286 IMAX locations only contributed six percent (around $1.8 million), which is a poor result for the large-format exhibitor.
In second place, Argo eased just 15 percent to an estimated $16.63 million. That's the best hold ever for a live-action movie in over 3,000 theaters that's released outside of November and December (when holiday weekends skew results). Also, after opening below Ben Affleck's The Town last weekend, Argo topped The Town in its second outing. Through 10 days, the Iranian hostage crisis thriller has earned $43.2 million, and it should have another great weekend coming up before facing stiff competition from Flight and Skyfall in early November.
Hotel Transylvania also had a great hold: the animated hit dipped 22 percent to an estimated $13.5 million for a new total of $119 million. It's poised to eclipse Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ($124.9 million) by Friday, and it's still on pace to beat The Smurfs ($142.6 million) to become Sony Picture Animation's highest-grossing movie ever.
After falling hard in its second weekend, Taken 2 bounced back with $13.4 million this weekend, which is off just 39 percent. The action sequel has so far grossed $106 million, and while it's not going to match its predecessor's $145 million, it's still going to come a lot closer than pretty much anyone would have expected a few months ago. Add in impressive overseas grosses ($174 million and counting), and Liam Neeson is surely being courted for Taken 3 right now.
In fifth place, Alex Cross opened to a disappointing $11.75 million from 2,539 locations. That's the worst opening ever for a movie starring Tyler Perry, and second-worst for a movie he's associated with behind Daddy's Little Girls ($11.2 million), which burned off some demand with a Wednesday opening. The debut is also lower than previous Alex Cross movies Kiss the Girls ($13.2 million) and Along Came a Spider ($16.7 million), even though those movies each were released over a decade ago.
The demographics tell a big part of the story here. The audience was 60 percent women, 68 percent over the age of 35, and 74 percent African American, all of which aligns with the typical Tyler Perry crowd. This suggests that Perry fans made up a large portion of moviegoers, while the legions of fans of the character Alex Cross and author James Patterson opted to skip the movie.
Sinister fell 50 percent to an estimated $9.03 million this weekend. That's not a good hold, but it also could have been much worse given the genre and the direct competition from Paranormal Activity 4. Through 10 days, the movie has earned $31.95 million.
Similar to many of the holdovers in the Top 12, Here Comes the Boom and Seven Psychopaths both retained a large portion of their audience. The Kevin James comedy dipped 28 percent to $8.5 million for a new total of $23.2 million, while Seven Psychopaths eased 21 percent to $3.3 million for a 10-day gross of $9.19 million (more than the entire run for In Bruges). Even with these great holds, though, both of these movies are still major disappointments.