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Movie projector: 'Paranormal Activity 2' looking to scare 'Jackass 3-D' out of the top spot

Paranormal2 It's going to be a good weekend at the box office for Paramount Pictures.

The premiere of the studio's low-budget horror sequel "Paranormal Activity 2" is the favorite to be No. 1, people who have seen prerelease surveys say. Even if "Paranormal Activity 2" falls a bit short, however, Paramount can still pop the Champagne. That's because the other movie gunning for the top spot is the studio's "Jackass 3-D," which finished first last weekend.

Paramount has accelerated television and online marketing for the new "Paranormal" film recently and seen interest grow among young moviegoers and particularly among Latinos. The picture is expected to sell between $25 million and $30 million worth of tickets.

"Jackass 3-D" should take in between $20 million and $25 million after its huge $50.4 million debut. Movies popular with young males that have a big opening typically fall 60% or more on their second weekends, but "Jackass" has had very strong weekday grosses. It took in an additional $11.9 million from Monday through Wednesday, an indication that it could hold better than expected this weekend.

Hereafter The only other fresh competition in the market is the Clint Eastwood-directed supernatural drama "Hereafter," which stars Matt Damon and had a solid start in six theaters last weekend. It will play nationwide starting on Friday and is expected to take in about $10 million, similar to Eastwood's 2008 film "Changeling," which also launched in October.

Interest is strongest by far among older adults who are already fans of Eastwood's movies but don't always rush out on opening weekend.

The opening looks likely to be a disappointment for distributor Warner Bros. which spent about $50 million on production. That's more expensive than most of Eastwood's pictures, due largely to the extensive special effects in "Hereafter."

"Paranormal 2," meanwhile, should be very profitable for Paramount if it opens as expected. Cast entirely with unknown actors and shot in just one location, the movie cost only about $3 million to produce.

However, the film has presented a unique marketing challenge for Paramount. The first film was a hit in large part because of the word-of-mouth that steadily spread after the movie debuted in midnight shows in a small number of cities. For the sequel, the studio has attempted to maintain the independent, viral feel of the original while still launching it in a traditional manner across the nation at once.

Given the intense interest among young horror fans, "Paranormal 2" is expected to have a very good start in its first shows at midnight Thursday night. It could fall off quickly after that, however, if the buzz is not good. Paramount has not screened the film for critics.

Lately horror films have not scared too many people into the box office. Recent disappointments include "My Soul to Take," "Case 39" and "Devil."

-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: A scene from "Paranormal Activity 2." Credit: Paramount Pictures

Bottom photo: Bryce Dallas Howard and Matt Damon in "Hereafter." Credit: Ken Regan / Warner Bros.

 
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