This week's cover: How 'Paranormal Activity' became a scary box-office smash
Paranormal Activity began its otherworldly existence as a little horror flick, made for $11,000 and shot entirely in the director’s house over the course of seven days. Now, thanks to a little help from Steven Spielberg and a savvy world-of-mouth marketing campaign by Paramount, its box office total has reached $62 million and counting. Hollywood is spellbound — and there are even plans for a sequel.
But the film has proved positively life-changing for stars Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, who were originally paid $500 each for their work (and who, like writer-director Oren Peli, will reap some of the film’s profits). “I don’t have to have a job other than acting,” says Featherston, who was until recently waiting tables. “So I bought a handbag,” she adds with a laugh. Now it’s a matter of keeping their careers in motion. “I just have to get out there and audition and use this opportunity to the best of my advantage,” she says. “I’ve been at this a long time, and I’m not gonna stop now.”
Though neither she nor Sloat have lined up their next job, they’ve both signed with agents. And they seem almost embarrassed by the VIP treatment the industry is starting to give them. “The quality of meetings we’re able to get right now are much higher. So are the scripts,” says Featherston. Sloat adds: “Just going in the room with casting directors is a lot different. It’s like, ‘Okay, I’ve seen your work, I know what you can do. Let’s just see you in this role.’” The actor has at least one idea for spending his newfound capital. “I would love to have a massive party and meet all the sweaty, geeky, awesome fans who posted on the Internet and believed in the film,” he says. “I just want to thank them.”
For more on Paranormal Activity, including why the film almost didn’t make into theaters and details of the seven-day shoot, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, October 30.