Paranormal Activity 3

Looks like a little scare was just what Hollywood needed. After two months of tepid box-office results, the horror flick Paranormal Activity 3 shook things up with a monster $26.2 million on Friday, according to early estimates. That’s the strongest opening-day gross since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 debuted way back in July.

This is unquestionably a front-loaded result for the R-rated horror prequel, especially considering that the film’s Friday figure includes the $8 million it earned from midnight showings. Regardless, though, PA3 is headed for a massive $50 million weekend, which is considerably better than anticipated and will represent the series’ best opening so far. (By comparison, last year’s Paranormal Activity 2 collected $40.7 million its first weekend.) And keep in mind that Paramount spent only $5 million to produce PA3, which won’t have to contend with a Saw movie this Halloween. In other words: You better believe there will be a Paranormal Activity 4 trick-or-treating next year.

Two other wide releases stood by watching while PA3 grabbed all the candy. The PG-13 steampunk action film The Three Musketeers debuted in fourth place with just $2.9 million on Friday, putting it on track for a weekend tally of about $8 million. And the PG-rated British spy comedy Johnny English Reborn, starring Rowan Atkinson, mustered only $1.1 million on Friday and is on pace for $4 million this weekend. Both movies, however, have already been playing overseas for several weeks. Musketeers has so far grossed $49 million in foreign countries since opening on Sept. 1, while Johnny English Reborn has earned a potent $85.1 million overseas since Sept. 15.

Among holdovers, Footloose was in second with $3.5 million on Friday — a small 36-percent decline for the ’80s remake. Real Steel was right behind, dropping only 31 percent for $3.1 million. Second place may be a photo finish between the two movies, as Real Steel will likely pick up more steam on Saturday thanks to family audiences. And the political thriller The Ides of March slipped 33 percent for $1.5 million — enough for fifth place. Check back on Sunday for the complete box-office report.

1. Paranormal Activity 3 — $26.2 mil

2. Footloose — $3.5 mil

3. Real Steel — $3.1 mil

4. The Three Musketeers — $2.9 mil

5. The Ides of March — $1.5 mil

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