The movie “Paranormal Activity” has got to have one of the biggest online hypes in recent memory. Even before it was shown, online blurbs screamed, “Scariest movie of the decade!” and “Scariest movie of our time!” This is one movie where the majority of the marketing was done courtesy of the audience. Facebook and Twitter was flooded with comments about the movie, saving the studio millions of dollars in advertising. For many days it stayed on Twitter’s “trending topics”. The movie was reportedly made for a measly $15,000 by director Oren Peli. Legend has it that a copy of the movie was sent to Steven Spielberg and he watched it at home. He then proceeded to get locked in his room and inexplicably couldn’t get out and needed a locksmith to pry the door open.
When the movie was finally bought, they asked the director to redo the movie, basically to remake his own movie. But when the original version was screened for a sample audience, people started walking out, not because the movie sucked, but because it was too scary for them to continue watching. From there, they decided to release the film as is, merely trimming it here and there, and changing the ending, which was reportedly orchestrated by none other than Steven Spielberg. When it was released last weekend, it grossed a whopping $7.9 million in just 160 theatres. That’s a huge average of $49,379 per theatre, compared with $11,429 in 3,000 theatres for “Couples Retreat,” which debuted as the weekend’s No. 1 movie with $34.3 million. The studio is adding hundreds of theatres this coming weekend and this is the true test if internet hype will carry the film into a nationwide box-office hit.
Many are calling it the new “The Blair Witch Project”, which eventually earned $140 million dollars in North America alone. But then, it could also be the next “Snakes On The Plane”, which also had the same online buzz, only to drop dead on arrival when it hit the screens. So online buzz doesn’t really guarantee big bucks for a movie, but it’s a start. Recently we saw “Cloverfield” and “District 9” earn big on the wings of internet buzz, so it might bode well for “Paranormal Activity”.
Here’s the trailer: