'Paranormal' gets ready to go global

In the midst of a frighteningly successful domestic run, “Paranormal Activity” is about to test its appeal in international territories.

Licensed to independent distribs around the world by IM Global at last year’s American Film Market, “Paranormal” is also seeing interest in local-language remakes.

Russia, Spain and several Asian territories have already licensed or are licensing local-language remake and sequel rights.

Paramount, which distributes domestically, has worldwide rights to an English-language sequel.

With much of the interest in the low-budget thriller being scared up via U.S.-based Websites, overseas distribs are hoping B.O. results can approach the $100 million-plus that “The Blair Witch Project” grossed internationally.

On Halloween night, “Paranormal” will begin showing in the U.K. with midnight screenings to help build buzz, much like Paramount did during the first October frame in the States. Icon is planning to go wide in Blighty in mid-November.

Warners will open it the following weekend in Russia; next, Svensk takes the pic into Scandinavia on Nov. 13, Wild Bunch into Germany on Nov. 19. “Paranormal” hits Spain (On Pictures), South Korea (Korea Screen) and Latin America (Playarte) on Nov. 27, while the movie bows in Australia (Icon), France (Wild Bunch) and Italy (Filmauro) in the first December frame.

As usual, Japan will be the last major market to open, with Presidio launching the pic in April.

The micro-budgeted “Paranormal” was sold worldwide within 48 hours at the AFM last year after the sales agent –concerned over the film’s lack of traction within Paramount at the time — showed the film to a recruited audience of 300 teenagers along with six rows of international distributors.

“It was one of those all-too-rare cases where the foreign distributors were convinced they had a hit a movie no matter what happened in the U.S.,” recalled IM Global topper Stuart Ford. “Needless to say they’re all now thrilled with what Paramount has done with the film with a terrific viral campaign. It’s a great example of how much more effective the Internet can be compared to other advertising media when a movie really captures the imagination of the online community worldwide.”

As a result of the breakout success in the U.S. — with $63.4 million in less than a month — most international markets will not require the three-week platform release that Par engineered. Ford said a week or two of midnight and word of mouth screenings will be enough for most of the distributors before accelerating into a wide local release.

Director Oren Peli and producer Jason Blum are setting off on a European and Asian publicity tour as soon as Peli’s “Area 51″ — which hasn’t landed at a studio yet — wraps in a few weeks, following its shoot in Utah.

Ford believes there’s hope within the overseas community that the film can hit studio-level box office internationally while infusing cash into the independent sector.

“There’s a groundswell of good will towards the movie even amongst distributors who missed out on it,” he added. “Successes like ‘Paranormal’ generate cash and confidence that spreads throughout the independent field.”

The “Paranormal” feel-good factor could help juice AFM next week as well, where IM Global is selling worldwide rights to “Area 51.”

“It would be nice if we’re on the verge of seeing a whole Oren Peli industry take flight,” Ford said. “But for now, it’s rewarding just to see a breakout indie movie doing huge box office here and to anticipate what the film’s worldwide performance might be.”

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