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Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News for Movie Lovers

January is typically a chance for the average moviegoer to catch up on all the films they might have missed over the Christmas season, as well as view awards contenders that finally venture beyond arthouse exclusivity.

But the new trend in Hollywood over the last few years has seen something wicked this way come at the dawn of the New Year. And by wicked I mean creepy. And by creepy I mean horrific.

Yes, it’s horror flicks, chill pills and good old-fashioned scare tactics that have kept the first month of the year relevant for studios, as there are now more fright films released in January than October these days.

So what better way to pop 2014’s cinematic cork than with the micro-budget maestro of mayhem, spook-meister Jason Blum’s “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.”

While the R-rated chiller is technically the fifth of the franchise that put found-footage horror on the map (no offense, “Blair Witch,” you may have blazed the trail, but you were one and done), “The Marked Ones” is an spinoff, one that aims to key into the Latino audience that have consistently been a large part of the series’ success.

It’s widely known that Blum never spends more than $5M on any of his films, and with the first four “Paranormal” pics having a combined budget of just over $13M and worldwide receipts of $720M, is it any wonder Paramount has already set “Paranormal Activity 5” for October this year?

While “Paranormal Activity 4” was by far the lowest grossing film in the franchise with $54M, it still cleared $140+ million globally; proving cheap thrills are far from dead and buried, especially when you’re matching your budget in the first few hours of release.

The only thing that concerns me would be the massive drop-off from “PA3” to “PA4” which saw the debut drop from a series high $52M to $29M. That’s a big fall, but still, for a horror flick in its fourth incarnation those are still scary-good numbers. If the hits anywhere near $20+M it’ll be golden.

In 2013, January saw “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” “Mama,” and “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” take 3 of the 4 #1 spots over the course of the month, and by the looks of things, “The Devil’s Due,” “I, Frankenstein” and “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” may become similar success stories.

And just like Leatherface was the first to topple Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit,” its sequel might end up being dethroned after three weeks by another low-budget theatrical terror that is the first of over 30 sequels and reboots set to hit screens in 2014.

Yeah, just let that sink in for a bit. Hey, with 8 of the Top 10 grossing films of 2013 falling into that category it shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone? Like it or not, this is the state of filmmaking right now, and looking at what’s already tacked onto the release calendar corkboard, that’s not likely to change this decade.

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RECOMMENDATIONS

Seeking some more spooky chills and thrills this weekend? Click here to check out our list of the 13 most underrated horror masterpieces of all-time.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES: 

  1. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES – $21M
  2. FROZEN – $19M
  3. THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATIONS OF SMAUG – $16M
  4. AMERICAN HUSTLE – $14M
  5. ANCHORMAN 2 – $13M

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SPLICE OF LIFE: CINEMATIC BLURBS, BLIPS, CUTS & CLIPS

WORLDWIDE: TOP 10 GROSSING FILMS OF 2013

1. IRON MAN 3 (Disney) – $1.2 billion

There’s just no stopping Marvel at this point, as Tony Stark’s third adventure was easily the top earning film of the franchise. With Marvel’s formidable box office staple of spandex-clad superheroes popping in and out of various movies, every other wantabe franchise in Hollywood is now scrambling to use Marvel as a blueprint. If you’re not doing it “The Marvel Way” right now, you’re already behind the times.

2. DESPICABLE ME 2 (Universal) – $918M*

Disney and DreamWorks: there’s a major new animated player in town. Not since “Shrek 2” has an animated sequel expanded the brand so massively and completely, catapulting the minions into the pop culture stratosphere. It’s no surprise that it’s them, not Gru, who already has another movie on the docket.

3. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate) – $800M*

Katniss and Peeta finally ignited internationally, which is incinerating the box office results of the original and pushing Lionsgate’s YA adaptation towards the vicinity of a billion-dollar franchise, per installment. And yes, of course the last book is split into two films. Would you throw away a billion dollars? That’s what I thought.

4. FAST & FURIOUS 6 (Universal) – $788M

Sadly, Paul Walker’s untimely death overshadows the fact that this series is just hitting cruising speed. Not only was the sixth installment the biggest box office hit yet, but the stakes just kept getting higher adding Jason Statham as the baddie for “Fast & Furious 7.”  There’s no doubt when that sequel is released in April 2015, it will flirt with $1billion worldwide, and that might be just the NOS boost the series needs to alter its course and continue on.

5. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (Disney) – $743M

Pixar is still the gold standard when it comes to animation, but they seem content lately to rest on their laurels, pumping out sequels the same way Disney-of-old did, except they used to go straight-to-video. Luckily for audiences, Disney Animation is soaring to new heights with films like last year’s “Wreck-it Ralph” and the shoe-in for Best Animated Feature of 2013, “Frozen.”

6. MAN OF STEEL (Warner Bros.) – $662M

Unlike Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns,” Zack Snyder’s reboot was just strong enough to produce a sequel…sort of. “Batman Vs. Superman” is slated for Summer 2015, however it also features Wonder Woman, The Flash and possibly others. That’s much more of Justice League film than Warner Bros. is willing to admit. The simple truth is, this one still doesn’t compare to Richard Donner’s version from 1978, which not only captured the spirit of Superman in a much more creative and convincing fashion, but it took its time letting us really get to know these characters, something the modern superhero blockbuster rarely allots for with anything more than a cheap series of flashbacks.

7. GRAVITY (Warner Bros.) – $653M*

Not since Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” has a sci-fi film changed the way we looked at the space beyond our world. If this isn’t the best film of 2013, it will certainly be remembered as that in years to come. For most of us, who will never go beyond the terrestrial confines of earth, this is the closest we’re ever going to get.

8. THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (Warner Bros.) – $635M*

When all is said and done, this will likely sneak into the Top 3 films of the year, as its predecessor was the first Tolkien film to break $1 billion at the global box office. Peter Jackson is no doubt the king of epic filmmaking these days, and I personally can’t wait to see what he attempts next.

9. THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Disney) – $629M*

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think Thor was as mighty and iconic as Superman. Pretty close, these days. That’s the Marvel marketing machine doing its thing, which saw the bottom line increase by nearly $200M over the original “Thor.” Look for “Captain America: Winter Soldier” to perform similarly this spring.

10. FROZEN (Disney) – $515M*

While it’s not officially on this list yet, it soon will be as it’s icing the competition domestically and internationally, and is already Disney Animation’s second-highest grossing film ever, trailing only “The Lion King,” which grossed nearly $1 billion back in 1994.

*Still in release

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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The Marked Ones Poster Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Poster Design by BLT Communications