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Entries in Paranormal Activity (4)


Review - Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Tim here. Autumn is in full swing, Halloween is around the corner, and it's time for a visit from an old seasonal friend in the form of the Paranormal Activity franchise. 2015's entry, the sixth overall, is titled in full Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, and it's important for two reasons: it's the first one to be shown in 3D, and it's allegedly going to be the last one. Oh sweet Lord, please let it be the last one.

The 2007 Paranormal Activity was an exercise in brutal simplicity: sometimes, terrifying things would happen in a couple's bedroom while they were sleeping, and they had a camera set up to record all of those terrifying things for our benefit. It's as blunt and unfussy as three-chord rock. And all of the film's sequels have taken it as their primary goal to screw that up as hard as possible, adding layer upon layer of nonsense mythology, time travel, and a community of witches cultivating one family across generations to be the handmaidens to a malevolent spirit called Toby.

The Ghost Dimension takes as its stated goal the summation of all this mythology into one definitive chapter where all is explained. It fails, of course. Summing up the messy dog-ends of the Paranormal Activity pictures would have been beyond the scope of one movie, and given the increasingly arbitrary twists in the franchise, it would hardly have been satisfying. What The Ghost Dimension does manage to do is execute the reveal that all six movies have been building up to a tediously straightforward "find a body for the Devil" scenario, something that plenty of other movies have been able to sketch out in a first act, and not several hours over the course of more than a half of a decade. It's a damp squib of a finale if ever there was one.

Click to read more ...


Box Office: The January Drought

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report. The first week of January is without doubt host to the least exciting crop of new films every year. Generally speaking, the only type of wide release is horror mediocrities like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D or this year’s The Marked Ones. Do NOT let the presence of ‘paranormal activity’ in the title fool you. It’s a trick to get you to see another film in the same found footage series that started five years ago. Because I’m a masochist, I have seen all previous installments, the best (and first) of which I can, at my most generous, describe with a shrug. Ever since, the franchise has been in a qualitative downward spiral that is now drowning its box office too. $18m is dismal business for this series, though it frankly surpasses my expectations.

The real story, like last week, belongs to Frozen. Then, I was wondering if it could muscle its way ahead of the competition during the holidays. Lo and behold, the Disney film is now back on top of the charts, will pass $300 million ($300 million!) tomorrow, is currently 2013's fourth highest grosser and Disney's biggest hit (sans Pixar) since The Lion King (1994). Meanwhile, Katniss will finally defeat Tony Stark by Tuesday as the book closes on 2013. This is a real rarity, as Michael detailed here, and whatever one thinks of the franchise, it is reason to celebrate. Finally, it’s noteworthy that Inside Llewyn Davis, on a small sample size of 156 theatres maintains almost exactly the same numbers as last weekend. If it manages to grab a few Oscar nominations, expect it to do similarly strong business upon expansion; but that’s a very big if.

01 Frozen $20.7 (cum. $297.8) Review | Podcast | Groff
02 Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones $18.2
03 The Hobbit 2 $16.2 (cum. $229.6)
04 Wolf of Wall Street $13.4 (cum. $63.2) Review | Scorsese's Women
05 American Hustle $13.2 (cum. $88.7) Podcast | Ensemble Power

I have stayed home so far this weekend, rewatching The Cranes Are Flying, Citizen Kane and Rashomon and watching Clio Barnard’s brilliant The Selfish Giant. Later tonight, I’ll be catching up with Xavier Dolan’s latest, Tom at the Farm. (If you're interested, you can always follow what I'm watching here.)

What have you watched this weekend?


Year in Review: Movies You Should Have Invested In

Some alarmists might consider the seemingly mandatory media coverage of weekend box office to be the true death of vital film culture, more money meaning nothing other than, well, more money. (See: Cosmopolis). Even for the sites that do it well, the figures are only good for so much. Generally speaking the most gargantuan hits of any year cost a lot to make so even when they're as big as everyone involves hopes they'll be (like Bond or the superhero epics they generally only return $4 bucks or so for every $1 they cost -- at least in their original window of money-making opportunity. Merchandising and sequels are obviously a reason for the gamble and will make you much much more later on). So I read through all the charts on Thompson in Hollywood's blockbuster box office wrap specifically with profit in mind. So here's what I've gleaned as the most profitable pictures of the year based on total global gross versus their budgets... Just for kicks I substracted $25 million of profits for promotional costs though as the article states that is on the low end of the typical scale. 

the biggest hit of the year everywhere but THE AVENGERS was also super expensive to make / market which cuts into your profit margins

But this approximate interpreted list by me still gives us a smudgy window view into which films really returned on investment for those who backed them. 

Ten Most Profitable?
01 The Devil Inside grossed 76 times its budget
02 Paranormal 4 grossed 23 times its budget
03 Magic Mike grossed 20 times its budget
04 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel grossed 11 times its budget
05 Ted grossed 9 times its budget 
06 Ice Age Continental Drift grossed 9 times its budget
07 Hunger Games grossed 8 times its budget
08 Taken 2 grossed 8 times its budget
09 Chronicle grossed 8 times its budget
10 Sinister grossed 8 times its budget 

Channing Tatum's 2012 filmography grossed $587 million around the world

Best Lesson Learned: keep your costs low and your stars well cast (Magic Mike & Ted & Marigold Hotel & Taken 2)

No-Duh Lesson: low budget genre movies are, historically, a strong financial bet (Devil, Paranormal, Chronicle) which is why so many actors and directs get their start in them

Soul-Crushing Lesson We Learned Again: Keep delivering what people already like (Ice Age, Taken 2, Paranormal 4, Devil Inside... not part of an official franchise but there are a bajillion possession movies and people always pay money to see them)

the #1 global top grosser that was in no way a franchise (unless you view Pixar as one continuous franchise10 Biggest Global Hits of 2012
01 The Avengers ($1.51 billion)
02 The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion)
03 Skyfall ($1.02 billion)
04 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($.8 billion) -- this is why we will get a lot more padding so movies can be divvied up for even more profit. Soon 2 hours of story will make 4 or 5 films (pt 1)
05 Ice Age Continental Drift ($.8 billion)
06 Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 ($.8 billion)  -- this is why we will get a lot more padding so movies can be divvied up  for even more profit. Soon 2 hours of story will make 4 or 5 films (pt 2) 
07 Spider-Man ($.7 billion) --  this is why we will get a lot more instant reboots of big hits. *sigh*
08 Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted ($.7 billion)
09 Hunger Games ($.6 billion)
10 Men in Black 3 ($.6 billion)

runner upBrave ($.535 billion)

* I think it's worth noting that Prometheus, which earned $402 million globally, and is therefore not too far outside this list is a much bigger hit than people have assumed based on media coverage of it as a "disappointment" and "flop". When something underperforms in the US, people assume it was a flop. It wasn't.

Did you support all of these economies? Which of these movies would you have invested in if someone had asked you?  Don't all say Magic Mike at once. 

Previously on 'Year in Review' 
Water-Logged - major flooding at theaters
Michael's 10 - Moonrise, Django, etc
Beau's 10 -Cabin in the Woods, Bachelorette, etc
Interviewlapalooza -from Kidman to Cumming
LGBT Characters - from "Mitch" to "Silva" 
James Bond Mania -Bond Girl Reader Rank
Snow White the apple muching fairest of all
Overrated Amy Adams, superheroes, film critics
Nathaniel's Worst Cloud Atlas, Spider-Man
Summer Crushes Pt. 1 and Pt. 2

Best of the Blog from...
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November


Box Office: Familiar Spectrals

Proving once again that Paranormal Activity is the new Saw (i.e. the same movie over and over again as Halloween ritual) the third outing did better than anyone expected. I saw and sort-of enjoyed the first but figured that was enough since faux found-footage / surveillance type of movies tend to wear out their welcome (for me at least) by the end of the movie, let alone for sequel after sequel!  I recently saw Trollhunter, the Norwegian "documentary" about, well, troll hunting. And it was clever, well made and definitely fun... but even then I was like 'Please End!' 

Still, I would pay lots of money to see a Paranormal Activity 4: The Haunting of The Haunts in which famous ghosts from the movies are scared to undeath in their own homes by other famous ghosts from the movies! 

Then at least it would be believable that the residents don't leave once the shit starts going down; they can't!

Box Office (U.S.) Top Ten -Estimates
01 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 newish $54 
02 REAL STEEL $11.3  (cum. $67.2)
03 FOOTLOOSE $10.8  (cum. $30.8)
04 THE THREE MUSKETEERS newish $8.8 
05 IDES OF MARCH [capsule] $4.9 (cum. $29.1)
06 DOLPHIN TALE  $4.2 (cum. $64.3)
07 MONEYBALL [review] $4.0 (cum $63.7)
08 JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN newish  $3.8 
09 THE THING  $3.1 (cum. $14.1)
10 50/50 [review]  $2.8 (cum $28.8)

Talking Points
• It says quite a lot about the viability of The Three Musketeers 3D! that i hear more talk about Milla Jovovich's complaints about the lack of studio promotion than I did about the movie itself.

• In limited release world -- or what we call "major markets" -- spooky Martha Marcy May Marlene was the top draw. Next weekend it expands to 10 more cities so go see it. Fantastic movie. The other high profile limited release, the financial thriller Margin Call also fared well.

What did you see this weekend?
I meant to opt for a whole day of movie-going but checked the box beside "pathetic shut-in" instead. Good times.