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Posted at 4:30 PM ET, 10/24/2010

Weekend box office: 'Paranormal Activity 2' dominates with $41.5 million

By Jen Chaney

"Paranormal Activity 2" frightens the "Jackass 3-D" pranksters out of the top spot at the box office and outdoes its predecessor in terms of opening revenue. But a supernatural movie of a different nature -- "Hereafter" -- doesn't fare nearly as well.

All the details -- and the opportunity to predict the Halloween weekend winner -- in this week's box office rundown.

All of that plot secrecy paid off for Paramount. Its "Paranormal Activity 2" managed to build buzz -- in part, perhaps, because the scares were kept under wraps by the studio -- and easily attract enough moviegoers to land at No. 1, with a projected $41.5 million. (Budget for the film? Reportedly $3 million.)

Let's compare that to the performance of the first "Paranormal Activity," which rolled out -- and slowly generated increasing interest -- over several weeks during last year's Halloween season. When it opened in late September on just 12 screens, it earned $77,873. By the weekend of Oct. 16-18, when the faux documentary shocker played more widely on 760 screens, it earned $19.6 million. And when it finally reached 1,945 theaters the weekend before Halloween, it became the No. 1 movie in North America, with $21.1 million.

"Paranormal Activity 2," on the other hand, screened in 3,216 theaters this weekend, nearly double the number captured by "Paranormal 1" during its widest opening. So almost double the number of screens for a sequel with built-in interest from the first movie and -- voila! -- you get nearly double the money. The question is whether this demon-meets-infant chiller can maintain its dominance during the Halloween weekend, an uncertainly given that revenue dropped after those lucrative screenings at midnight Thursday and on Friday.

The "Jackass 3-D" boys dropped to second place. But don't weep for Johnny Knoxville or Steve-O, America. Their oversized-hand-smacking prankfest still earned $21.6 million, bringing its domestic total to $87.1 million. It's likely that by this time next weekend, the movie will have crossed the $100 million mark.

Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood also delved into the supernatural realm, but with less success than "Paranormal Activity 2." "Hereafter," which opened in limited release last weekend and widely this weekend, brought in a modest $12 million. "Clint's movies these days are more of a marathon than they are a sprint, so we'll see how it plays out," Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner Bros., told the Associated Press.

Now on to next weekend when, for the second consecutive year, a "Paranormal" movie will compete against a "Saw" sequel for moviegoers' attention during the Halloween weekend. Which one will come out on top? Predict via our poll below.

By Jen Chaney  | October 24, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  
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