It'll be a battle of the boos this Halloween
sets the stage for one of the biggest Halloween B.O. battles in recent times. “Saw VII” has already tried to bloody “Paranormal 2” once. Kevin Greutert was circling to direct “Paranormal 2” when Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures exercised an option requiring Greutert to direct the seventh installment in the “Saw” franchise. “Paranormal 2” didn’t get a director until just last week, when Tod “Kip” Williams inked a deal to helm the pic. Williams is new to the horror genre, having directed indies “The Door in the Floor” and “The Adventures of Sebastian Cole.” That left some wondering whether “Paranormal 2” would indeed be ready by Oct. 22. Insiders involved with the film say that still leaves plenty of time to shoot and edit the sequel. Par and filmmakers are currently casting. It’s unlikely the sequel could shoot in eight days, like the first “Paranormal Activity” — but the quickie shoot set a precedent for low-budget pics with high expectations. “Paranormal Activity,” produced for roughly $15,000, became a runaway hit at the box office following an innovative viral-marketing campaign, grossing $107.9 million domestically and $84.8 million internationally for a worldwide total of $192.7 million. Cume makes “Paranormal Activity” one of the most profitable pics in Hollywood history, much as the micro-budgeted horror pic “The Blair Witch Project” was in 1999. “Blair Witch” grossed $140.5 million domestically and $108.1 million overseas for a total of $248.6 million. For Paramount and the “Paranormal” producers, which include Jason Blum and Oren Peli (Peli directed the first “Paranormal”), the trick now is to avoid the fate suffered by “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.” The “Blair Witch” sequel fell flat with auds, grossing $26.4 million domestically and $21.3 million overseas. Both “Blair Witch” and “Paranormal Activity” began as guerrilla indies picked up by Artisan and Paramount, respectively. But Artisan couldn’t replicate the grassroots appeal of “Blair Witch,” one of the first films to break out at the B.O. after a viral marketing campaign. Paramount has far more production and marketing muscle than an indie like Artisan. But sequels can be tricky, particularly when the sequel in question is a follow-up to something of a cultural phenomenon. After bowing “Paranormal Activity” in just a few theaters, Paramount expanded each week after asking fans to go online and vote to see it in their cities. On Oct. 29, in its fifth week, “Paranormal Activity” grew its location count by 1,182 to 1,945 theaters as Lionsgate opened “Saw VI” in 3,036 theaters. “Paranormal” grossed $21.1 million against $14.1 million for “Saw VI.” The next “Saw” will be the first in the franchise to play in 3D, which could give it an edge, though the last few installments have seen progressively lower B.O. At this point, Par has no plans to release “Paranormal 2” in 3D.