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'Paranormal Activity' expanding after selling out nearly all midnight shows

September 27, 2009 | 10:19 am

Paranormal

"Paranormal Activity" is scaring late-night college crowds just like Paramount Pictures had hoped.

Twelve college towns played the ultra-low-budget horror film at late-night screenings Friday and Saturday, and virtually all sold out. The sole exception was in State College, Pa., where a Penn State football game Saturday evening left a show at about 75% capacity, according to the studio.

Numerous theaters reported sellouts hours before screenings started, indicating that the studio's strategy to build "Blair Witch Project"-like buzz from college students was a success.

Based on the positive response, Paramount is putting together expansion plans and will start rolling out the film in new markets Friday, where it will continue to show "Paranormal Activity" in late-night screenings only.

One factor in Paramount's determination of where to take "Paranormal Activity" next is a "demand it" feature on the movie's website, where about 200,000 fans have requested screenings in their cities. Los Angeles is currently on top of the list, with 14,196 requests, followed by New York and Chicago.

"Paranormal Activity" was acquired by DreamWorks nearly two years ago. Initially, the studio planned to produce a bigger-budget remake, but after getting positive responses from industry talent who saw the film, including Steven Spielberg, it decided to release it as is. The movie stayed with Paramount Pictures after DreamWorks left its former parent company last year. (For more on the history of "Paranormal Activity," read this Times story.)

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: A scene from "Paranormal Activity." Credit: Paramount Pictures

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