By Grady Smith
Updated October 20, 2012 at 05:25 PM EDT
  • Movie

Paranormal Activity 4 may have led the box office on Friday, but it got off to a much slower start than its two most recent predecessors.

Based on midnight showings (well, technically 9:00 pm showings) alone, it was clear that PA4 was headed for a lower-than expected opening frame. The found footage horror film took in $4.5 million on Thursday night, far less than Paranormal Activity 3, which grossed $8 million at midnight on the way to a $52.6 million debut, and Paranormal Activity 2, which earned $6.3 million at midnight on the way to $40.2 million.

Paranormal Activity 4 grossed an estimated $15.0 million on Friday (that includes Thursday night grosses), and since front-loaded horror sequels typically earn about half of their opening weekends on their first Friday (PA3 earned $26.3 million on Friday; PA2 found $20.1 million), the poorly-reviewed film could be looking at a $30 million weekend. While that’s enough to easily win the weekend — not to mention a terrific start for a film that cost Paramount only $5 million — it’s also a rather distressing figure, which suggests that audiences’ interest in the franchise is quickly waning.

Argo stuck around in second place, dipping by only 14 percent from its first Friday to $5.1 million. Incredibly, the Ben Affleck-directed spy drama may decline by less than 10 percent in its second weekend to about $17-18 million. Clearly, that “A+” CinemaScore grade is no fluke. In third place, the less well-reviewed thriller Taken 2 earned $4.3 million, which should lead to a $14 million weekend — enough to pass the $100 million mark.

Summit’s Alex Cross, which stars Tyler Perry in the title role, got off to a weak start in fourth place, taking in an estimated $4.0 million. The action film will have to settle for about $11 million, and it will likely get passed by Hotel Transylvania, which earned $3.6 million on Friday and may find about $12.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period.

1. Paranormal Activity 4 – $15.0 million

2. Argo – $5.1 million

3. Taken 2 – $4.3 million

4. Alex Cross – $4.0 million

5. Hotel Transylvania – $3.6 million

Check back tomorrow for the full weekend report, and follow me on Twitter for more box office analysis and up-to-the-minute updates!

Alex Cross

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 101 minutes
  • Rob Cohen