By Grady Smith
January 07, 2012 at 06:27 PM EST

2011’s box office woes begone — it looks like Paramount may have another Paranormal Activity-sized hit on its hands.

The studio’s new possession movie, The Devil Inside, which was acquired for under $1 million, grossed an absolutely gigantic $16.9 million on its opening day yesterday, with $2 million of that coming from midnight showings. (And to think I was worried that my $20 million prediction — on the high end of prognostiators’ guesses — was too high!)

Despite a truly awful “F” CinemaScore grade, the demonic horror movie may take in about $35 million, which would easily offset any promotional costs. Even if the movie plummets in the subsequent days and weeks (it will), The Devil Inside will undoubtedly provide Paramount with a hefty profit, and it’s strong opening bodes well for the 2012 box office — or at least for the exorcism genre.

The rest of the Top 5 — all 2011 leftovers — seem to be holding very well since last weekend. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol finished in second place with $6.2 million, and it may earn an additional $20 million by Sunday’s end. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows came in third with $4.3 million, and could find a better-than-expected $14 million this weekend.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo notched a $3.5 million Friday, which may lead to an $11.5 million weekend, while War Horse earned $2.6 million and could gallop away with $9 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period.

In ninth place, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which expanded into 809 theaters this weekend, found a sturdy $1.7 million. It should earn about $5.5 million.

1. The Devil Inside — $16.9 million

2. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol — $6.2 million

3. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows — $4.3 million

4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — $3.5 million

5. War Horse — $2.6 million

Check back tomorrow for the full box office report, and follow me on Twitter for more box office news and extras!