Is the Hollywood Movie Star Dead?

Land of the Lost

A Reuters piece that’s been making the rounds this weekend speculates that Hollywood may be thinking twice about banking on A-list celebrities in the future. The piece points to recent low-budget and star-free fare like The Hangover, District 9, and Paranormal Activity that each went on to be wildly successful, and contrasts them with big-budget, star-studded flops like A Christmas Carol, Land of the Lost, and Funny People. The overall lesson seems to be that star-power doesn’t have nearly the draw that it used to, and that budgets aren’t much of a factor for audiences either.

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paranormal activity poster

Paramount has issued a press release gloating that Paranormal Activity has just passed $100 million domestically. And they should gloat, with a film that was made for only $15,000, and purchased by Paramount for either $300,000 or $350,000, depending on what report you read. You can try to figure out the multiplier on that, but any way you add it up, it’s probably  the most successful investment in the company’s history.  Especially considering how little the company spent on marketing for the film. This week, the movie will have been in theaters nationwide for a month, and is still making over $8 million over a weekend, which is enough to beat out Warner Bros’ $30 million sci-fi thriller The Box in its debut.

The movie has become the top grossing R-Rated thriller of the past decade. Right now it stands as the fifth largest horror/supernatural movie release of all time, and is on track to unseat The Grudge for the #4 spot. Paranormal is also the #22 highest grossing film of the year, and is set to overtake Zack Snyder’s $130-$180 million budgeted adaptation of Watchmen in a week or two. Full press release after the jump.

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With Paranormal Activity turning out to be a massive success, all eyes are on director Oren Peli’s upcoming project, Area 51. Obviously, the film will likely deal with the titular American military base which has been home to all sorts of conspiracies, in particular aliens. Up until now, we’ve heard murmurs that the film was about three teenager exploring Area 51, and that it will employ a similar narrative to Paranormal Activity. Further details remained tightly under wraps–that is until our friends over at Latino Review landed a look at the film’s script/outline.

Potential spoilers for Area 51 after the break.

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Paramount Pictures wants to reward all of the internet moviegoers which helped make Paranormal Activity a viral phenomenon. Sure, some might argue that the marketing campaign was a very calculated attempt to make it feel like the audience “made the success” of the movie, and those people might not be wrong (but who cares? really…). Paramount is now taking that marketing concept to the release of the Blu-ray/DV, by putting YOUR NAME in the credits of the home video release. Head on over to the and fill in your name, email, and birthdate and you will be featured in the DVD credits. How cool is that?
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VOTD: Paranormal Saw

With both Saw and Paranormal Activity out in theaters, FunnyOrDie has decided to create a funny mash-up parody called Paranormal Saw.

Want the paranormal spookiness of Paranormal Activity, but without giving up the gore and mindgames of Saw? Then Paranormal Saw is just for you! When a young couple suspect a ghost in their house, they uncover a puppet with plans of his own.

Watch Paranormal Saw after the jump.

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Update: In our box office report below, we mentioned the lack of official sequel plans for Paranormal Activity. Well, Paramount has now released a statement from Chairman Brad Grey via LAT: “We have the rights on a worldwide basis to do Paranormal 2 and we’re looking to see if that makes some sense.” The word ‘some’ has possibly never been needed less in a sentence. Paranormal Activity‘s boffo, record-setting box office is discussed below. We’ll update on the sequel when and if more details come in. In the meantime, what direction should a sequel take?

It had to happen later than sooner: this weekend Lionsgate‘s Saw franchise took a significant tumble with Saw VI opening to a mere $14.8 million from 3,000 theaters, the lowest opening since 2004’s Saw ($18.2m). The prognosis for the grisly torture series might be gloomier if not for its showdown with Paranormal Activity, the year’s biggest movie phenomenon (no small feat), which haunted the top spot after months of escalating buzz with $22 million. That means it’s up two millie over last weekend, while still playing in less than 2,000 theaters. Not only are number-crunchers getting wet over the idea that this indie pick-up from Paramount, budgeted at $13,000 (yeah, thousand), might gross $100 million domestic, but it’s on track to become the most profitable release in the mountainous studio’s history. Word from the clown is: Executives are filming themselves asleep with permagrins, splayed out on beds covered in dollars gold bars.
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Paranormal Activity Director Goes To Area 51

Area 51

Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli‘s next film is no secret — he’s been talking about it since Slamdance. We even mentioned it breifly in a previous posting. But now that Paranormal has become a viral box office sensation, the project has been officially announced in the trades. What is it? Peli is going to Area 51. Details after the jump.

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When Paramount Pictures announced that they were planning a viral limited release for the indie horror film Paranormal Activity, most people wrote it off as the studio dumping the film in a few theaters before the enviable dvd/blu-ray release. At /Film, we immediately saw the potential of the Demand it campaign, especially when it comes to small film distribution. This even prompted Derrick Comedy to launch their own Demand It campaign for the indie comedy film Mystery Team (Demand that Mystery Team come to your city now!).

This weekend, Paranormal Activity expanded to 33 cities. The campaign worked and the Thursday through Saturday midnight screenings sold out in all venues, earning a per screen of $16,000 for a total estimated gross of $535,000. Hundreds of thousands of fans across the country have voted for their cities on the Eventful Demand It website, prompting Paramount to expand to over 40-markets. Beginning next Friday, October 9th, Paramount will begin offering the movie at all hours, including the previous midnight only venues.



In this week’s /Filmcast, Dave Chen, Devindra Hardawar and Adam Quigley discuss the ongoing Roman Polanski saga, praise Community and Cougar Town, reflect on the similarities between Lost and FlashForward, remind you of the greatness of LA Confidential, get freaked out by Paranormal Activity, and continue to chronicle Hollywood’s downfall through the proliferation of remakes and film adaptations based on popular brands. Special guest Eric D. Snider joins us this evening.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next Monday at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST at Slashfilm’s live page as we do a double review of The Invention of Lying and Zombieland.

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Fantastic Fest Video Review: Paranormal Activity


At Telluride I got my first glimpse at Paranormal Activity, the $11,000 microbudget Blair Witch-style POV haunted house indie which scared audiences at Slamdance. I screened the film outside, in a park, in the darkness of night. Girls screamed, guys laughed nervously, and many people shielded their eyes with their hands. I didn’t write a review at the time because I wanted to see the film again. I wanted to see how it would play in a movie theater, and I wanted to watch the audience’s reactions. I knew that a midnight screening at during Fantastic Fest was planned, and decided to wait as the Alamo Drafthouse would surely be the perfect crowd.

This movie is well crafted, and makes a lot of a little. The film basically focuses on a couple in a house. Two other minor characters make short appearances, but for the most part this film is minimalist – two people, one house, one video camera, and a ghost/demon. Both of the characters are natural and likable, which makes this film all the more believable. And while you might not be scared out of your mind (I’ll admit I only jumped once or twice), you’ll have a lot of fun — especially if you see this with your girlfriend and a lot of friends.

After the screening, I recorded a very quick three and a half minute video blog reaction with Kent from and Rusty from Watch that now after the jump.

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