Generally, a movie that opens to $30.2 million domestically against a $5 million budget would be considered a success of the lighting-cigars-with-hundred-dollar-bills kind—any mathematician would tell you that. But there’s a sense of imminent doom surrounding the $30.2 million made by Paranormal Activity 4, which fell dramatically short of the whopping $52.6 made by the previous installment. It’s entirely possible that audiences have finally grown tired of paying for more or less the same shtick over and over again, and may be ready for the series to wind down the way these things usually do—with the final installment in 3-D and a quasi-sequel pitting Katie Featherton against the guy from the Saw movies. A fifth Paranormal Activity is already in the works for next October, of course, but diminishing returns seem certain. Still, the news was much worse for Alex Cross, which opened at a feeble $11.75 million for fifth place, despite the built-in audience for Tyler Perry. (Box Office Mojo’s Ray Subers notes that the 74% African-American audience suggests that his fans turned out while fans of James Patterson’s Cross novels—and shitty thrillers in general—took the weekend off.) Perhaps the most notable development in the Top 10 was Argo’s exceptional Week Two performance: Scoring $16.6 million for second place, it only dropped off 14.6% from the week before, buoyed by strong word of mouth and Ben Affleck’s intense eyes.
In limited release, New Yorkers inexplicably failed to make Cannes sensation Holy Motors the moviegoing event of the season, though it did pull a solid $9,750 per screen on two screens. The public-school chess team documentary Brooklyn Castle did even better, with $11,050 per screen on two screens. But The Sessions outpaced them both with $30,250 per screen on four screens, bumping and grinding its way into the Oscar race—tentatively for now, but perhaps more vigorously down the line, as it gains more confidence.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.