Paranormal Activity opened nation wide this weekend after a series of midnight screenings at Festivals and university campuses, and it might be headed for a big record.
The film was made, amazingly, for $15,000 by a novice filmmaker named Oren Peli using a handy-cam. After he wrapped production, which took just a week, and landed representation at CAA, the movie eventually ended up at Dreamworks, where Steven Spielberg screened it. (Spielberg, according to the LA Times was genuinely freaked out by the movie. Shortly after watching it, he discovered his bedroom was locked, inexplicably from the inside, which required a locksmith to be summoned. Spielberg, apparently goofier than I had originally thought, then placed the "haunted" DVD in a garbage bag and returned into to the studio, but wasn't spooked enough to pass on the movie, Dreamworks secured the rights.) Originally slated to be re-made with a real budget, the studio arranged a screening with several of the potential screenwriters for the remake mixed into a real crowd. When the executives saw the incredible reaction the film got (which included several people that walked out because the movie freaked them out) they scrapped their remake plans and realized they couldn't improve on what they already had.
So a movie that cost just $15,000 hits theatres nationwide and is now raking in millions in its first weekend of release (after already making $8 million last week in its limited run.) While nobody is expecting this movie to do the insane blockbuster numbers of Titanic, Spiderman or any of the other mega-budget big earners, it does, however, have a great chance of being the most profitable film ever. Hollywood measures "profitability" as the precent of increase on your investment, and with this movies shoe-string budget it has a good chance to give the reining king, The Blair Witch Project, a run for her money. That film, interestingly also a handy-cam shot horror mocumentary, was made for just $60,000 and raked in $248 million for a whopping 414,333 percent return. Through Friday night, Paranormal Activity has already passed the $20 million mark. By the end of the weekend, it should be interesting to see where it stands.