On Paranormal Activity and the horror genre

The horror genre has endured quite a lot of ups and downs throughout its history, but usually comes back strong, as illustrated by the third movie in the Paranormal Activity franchise.

People often turn to horror in times of trouble, the original Dracula and Frankenstein were big hits during the Great Depression, and apparently the third Paranormal Activity also beat a major slump at the box office.

Paranormal Activity 3 is now considered the #1 horror movie opening of all time with $54 million, and as Nikki Finke reports on Deadline, “Hollywood’s scary 3 months of slumping North American box office is officially over.” 

The take of Paranormal Activity 3 is even more remarkable considering it cost only $5 million, and you’d think that by now the franchise would be played out with audiences, but it scored even better than the second one.


It’s always amusing to me to see the box office punditry and what records a movie breaks (“best Wednesday afternoon gross in history on a leap year” or some silly headline like that), and already there’s an article in the Hollywood Reporter, “Top 15 Grossing Threequels of All Time,” #1 being Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Box Office Mojo also reports, “‘Paranormal’ Possesses Fall Record,” topping last year’s Fall high, another threequel, Jackass 3-D.


The first Paranormal Activity was a phenomenon similar to The Blair Witch Project with a similar premise, the “found footage” horror story, costing a meager $15,000, and earning back over a hundred million – clearly an insane cost to profit ratio. 

Sure, the prices on the movies have gone up a bit, but it’s still chump change by Hollywood standards, and as long as the movies are in the black by opening night, expect more sequels and low budget horror films in the future.