Horror sequel should easily best 'Three Mustketeers,' 'Johnny English'

Paramount’s third installment in the “Paranormal Activity” franchise will have no problem ruling the weekend’s worldwide B.O. with good-to-solid returns — but a depressed domestic market could prevent it from scaring up blockbuster-sized B.O. in the U.S.

The weekend’s other wide releases at more than 1,000 locations, 3D “The Three Musketeers” and “Johnny English Reborn,” are pegged for modest Stateside openings.

But both pics are targeted more to the international market, so U.S. returns will be gravy.

Universal’s “Johnny English” sequel already has tallied a stellar $91 million internationally through Wednesday, while “Three Musketeers,” from Constantin Films, is approaching $50 million in overseas grosses. “Johnny English” first debuted in markets including Australia and Russia on Sept. 15 and since has expanded to 43 territories; “Three Musketeers” currently is playing in 40 markets outside the U.S.

Domestically, inspirational sports drama “The Mighty Macs” launches at an aggressive 975 playdates via Quaker Media. Pic looks to tap into the faith-based aud, last served by Sony’s “Courageous.” But with little marketing muscle, the film isn’t expected to gross much more than $1 million through Sunday.

Fox Searchlight’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” which just nabbed three Gotham Independent Film Awards noms, bows today at four locations.

Stateside B.O. has been sluggish lately, with last weekend going down as one of the weakest October frames ever.

“Paranormal Activity 3,” which is tracking to debut at around the mid-$30 millions domestically, could have more success overseas, thanks to a hefty day-and-date launch in 42 territories, including Australia, France, Mexico, Russia and the U.K.

Par reportedly had to turn away auds at its fan screenings of “Paranormal” held Oct. 18 in cities around the world, including New York, London, Dallas, Chicago, Melbourne and L.A., which saw the largest crowd worldwide, totaling upwards of 2,260 fans.

Under-25 auds — “Paranormal’s” core demo — have been especially sparse at Stateside plexes lately, which is why tracking services have “Paranormal 3″ opening with less than the $40.7 million of its predecessor. But some B.O. observers say the recent teen B.O. boredom is mostly product-related; that means anything better-than-expected for “Paranormal 3″ will hinge on the franchise’s popularity.

Without Lionsgate’s annual “Saw” offering, “Paranormal 3″ will have a clear playing field through Halloween. Last year, “Paranormal 2″ faced “Saw 3D” in its second week. The former pic wound up cuming $84 million domestically.

U’s “Johnny English Reborn” isn’t expected to draw much of a Stateside crowd, since popularity for star Rowan Atkinson lies mostly with overseas auds. The film is expected to launch in the $4 million to $6 million range and was budgeted at $45 million.

Meanwhile, “The Three Musketeers,” being distribbed in the U.S. by Summit, should attract primarily older males, with a potential family component lifting weekend grosses to the low double-digits. Summit is bowing the film at approximately 2,200 3D locations.

Summit will rely mainly on domestic theatrical to offset the company’s P&A commitment on the film.

In limited release, Roadside Attractions is taking a somewhat aggressive approach with Wall Street thriller “Margin Call,” bowing the pic this weekend at 56 playdates as well as on VOD. Also debuting on the indie front, Cohen Media Group’s “Oranges and Sunshine,” toplining Emily Watson, opens at four.

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