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Opening day: 'Paranormal' beating 'Saw' as every new movie looks soft

October 24, 2009 | 10:05 am

Paranormal Activity In the battle of the horror movies, "Paranormal Activity" has taken an early lead over "Saw VI" on a weekend that looks to be disappointing for every studio with a new film.

Paramount's indie horror sensation "Paranormal" sold $7.6 million worth of tickets Friday, putting it on track to collect just over $20 million for the weekend. "Saw VI," meanwhile, took in a little less than $7 million Friday and will probably gross $15 million to $20 million for the weekend.

It was an open question going into the weekend which of the two movies would attract bigger crowds. The more meaningful result, however, is that "Saw VI" is on track to significantly underperform every movie in Lionsgate's horror series, from 2005's "Saw II" through 2008's "Saw V," all of which debuted to more than $30 million. That's a sign not only that "Saw VI" was hurt by "Paranormal," but also that audience interest in the franchise may be waning.

Outside of the matchup of scary flicks, it's looking like a very soft weekend for three new pictures. Universal's "Cirque du Freak," which it co-financed with Relativity Media, opened to a weak $2.2 million on Friday and will probably take in $6 million to $7 million this weekend. Imagi Studios' animated feature "Astro Boy," which is being distributed by Summit Entertainment, and Fox Searchlight's "Amelia" both sold under $2 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada on Friday, meaning they will probably gross about $7 million and $5 million, respectively, for the full weekend.

Official estimates of weekend domestic ticket sales will be released by studios Sunday morning.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat in "Paranormal Activity." Credit: Paramount Pictures