Liam Neeson isn't afraid of much in the "Taken" movies, but he should be wary of ghosts this Halloween season.
"Paranormal Activity 4" looks likely to dethrone "Taken 2" from the top of the box office this weekend. Paramount's found-footage horror franchise has made a combined $576 million around the world against roughly $10 million in production costs since it began in 2007. "Alex Cross," a film starring Tyler Perry that was neither written nor directed by him, will likely have to settle for #2, with Ben Affleck's Oscar contender "Argo" at #3.
"The latest 'Paranormal Activity' cost just $5 million, matching the budget of the threequel, which was the first of the franchise to top $100-plus million domestic and internationally," Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock pointed out to MTV News. "Odds are this one will fizzle out faster, but not by much, as this is still the hottest horror franchise around." Bock predicted a $43 million opening for "Paranormal Activity 4."
IMDB.com's Keith Simanton projected roughly the same number. "I think it scales back just a little from 'Paranormal 3,' but that's still quite impressive," he said. "This year 'Paranormal 4' has 'Sinister' stealing some of its October shaky cam as it opened to $18 million last week."
How will Perry do as the title character in the action-thriller "Alex Cross"? "After making a mint with his Madea character and African-American dramas, Perry and Lionsgate hope to expand his fanbase with the PG-13 thriller based on James Patterson's hit series of novels," Bock said. "Morgan Freeman had success with this same character in the late 90's/early 00's with Paramount's 'Kiss the Girls' and 'Along Came a Spider.'"
"Kiss the Girls" opened with $13 million in 1997; "Along Came a Spider" debuted four years later with $16.7 million. "Perry might split the difference, coming in around $14.5 million," Simanton predicted. Bock was more optimistic, putting the number closer to "Along Came a Spider."
"With a $35 million production budget, 'Alex Cross' is a hedged bet, and all involved are very keen on turning this property into a long-running franchise," Bock said. "Patterson certainly has the source material as Alex Cross appears in over a dozen novels."
"Taken 2" should take in another $11 million or so, but will likely come in behind the ever expanding "Argo." Adam Sandler's animated "Hotel Transylvania," which opened at #1 a few weeks ago, will likely round out the Top 5.