Par scarer beats estimates with $16.9 mil; pic on track for $30 mil weekend

In a devilish upset, Paramount Insurge’s “The Devil Inside” topped the domestic B.O. Friday with $16.9 million.

The scarer is outperforming even its most generous of pre-weekend estimates. Thursday, insiders expected holiday holdovers to dominate the frame, and even yesterday after “Devil Inside” had taken $2.2 million in midnight screenings, revised estimates only jumped to around $8 million for Friday, half of the film’s actual take.

“Devil Inside” might not do much better, however, because while genre pics tend to play well in this corridor, they are front-loaded affairs with steep three-day drop offs. Insurge, a new Par distribbery for which “Devil Inside” marks its second release after last year’s “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” has shifted its three-day estimate to $30 million.

With “Devil Inside” the only wide opener this frame, another Par pic, “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” took second with $6.2 million, bringing its domestic cume to $155.9 million.

Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” took third yesterday with $4.3 million, followed by Sony’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” with $3.5 million. “Dragon Tattoo” has been performing well in mid-week sales, and its 34% week-to-week drop marks the best hold of all films in wide release.

Racing a few spots ahead since last week, Disney’s “War Horse” brings up the rear with $2.6 million.

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