The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Could 'Paranormal Activity' trounce 'Saw VI' this weekend?

October 21, 2009 |  6:00 pm

Up until now, Lionsgate's "Saw" franchise has been the behemoth of all horror behemoths, laying waste to competitors left and right. Each one of the five films so far -- made on minuscule budgets -- has earned more than $100 million around the world, with the last four sequels opening to at least $30 million in their U.S. debut weekends.

But is the reign of "Saw" about to end? My colleague John Horn, whose Word of Mouth column will appear in our Thursday Calendar section, is boldly predicting that the underground horror hit "Paranormal Activity," which is going wide on Friday, could actually win the weekend.

As he says in his upcoming story: "Box-office prognosticators say the clash for box-office supremacy could be remarkably close, with several giving a slight advantage to 'Paranormal Activity,' which continues to defy all expectations, even with Paramount," the studio releasing the surprise low-low-budget shockfest. Although Horn acknowledges that "Saw" has been among the most enduring of all genre series, he says "the likely winner is 'Paranormal Activity.' "

What I found especially fascinating is that the showdown features two very different horror movie styles, with "Saw's" torture-porn shocks going up against "Paranormal's" supernatural thrills. As Horn puts it, "Paranormal Activity" is a thriller "in the mold of 'The Blair Witch Project,' where the scariest moments mostly occur off-screen and in the audience's imagination."

Photo of Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat in "Paranormal Activity" from Paramount Pictures