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'Paranormal Activity' at the Box Office?

26 Oct, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Paramount Pictures’ release of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, the last film in the venerable horror franchise, underwhelmed at the Oct. 25 weekend box office with $8.2 million in ticket sales.

Scuttlebutt suggests the movie’s projected $20 million box office was undermined by the fact some major theatrical chains refused to screen the sixth installment due to Paramount’s new release strategy.

Paramount created controversy over the summer when it announced Ghost Dimension and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Oct. 30) would be available for digital home entertainment purchase 17 days after the film's theatrical footprint dipped below 300 theaters. To circumvent theater owner backlash, Paramount made a deal with AMC Theatres and Cineplex Entertainment in a first-of-its-kind in-theater and digital revenue-sharing initiative.

It didn’t work. Regal Cinemas boycotted Ghost Dimension, and, as a result, the film debuted on 1,656 screens instead of the 2,883 screens for prior film Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.

“They needed to have more theaters involved,” said Patrick Corcoran with the National Association of Theater Owners.

But were screen count and pending digital sellthrough really to blame?

While another 1,227 screens might have generated $6.1 million more in ticket sales, the reality is that Ghost Dimension averaged a respectable $5,000 per screen, down just 21% from $6,398 screen average for Marked Ones.

The reality video franchise had been on a downward slide at the box office since 2009, when inaugural Paranormal Activity surprised with $25,813 per screen and nearly $108 million in revenue domestically.

Other sequels included Paranormal Activity 2 ($12,649 per screen), Paranormal Activity 3 ($15,829) and Paranormal Activity 4 ($8,501).

It’s safe to assume most moviegoers over the weekend didn’t know about Paramount’s new release strategy, or would be necessarily more inclined to pay $10 to $15 to purchase a digital copy of Ghost Dimension in a few weeks.

Regardless, studios find themselves at a distribution crossroads where consumers have more entertainment options and the industry standard three-to-four month theatrical window can’t remain the status quo.

“There is a structural inefficiency to how we distribute most films. It’s bad for the long-term health of the business,” Rob Moore, vice chairman at Paramount, told Variety.


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