Going into Halloween, Paranormal Activity 3 has the prime slot, with ten days left to generate horror-filled bucks at the box office. It’s got a weak field competition, as it should easily trump the leftovers, and the newer films. Both The Mighty Macs and Johnny English Reborn appear to be contractually obligated releases, while The Three Musketeers seems dusty and cheap. Let’s take a look at the box, shall we?

Though the Saw franchise has been put to rest (for now), Paranormal Activity is continuing the age-long tradition of quickly released sequels to horror films. Universal did it back in the 1930′s and 40′s, Hammer churned out numbers of sequels in their day, and the 1980′s horror monsters were constantly hitting theaters. It may not be great art, but it is fun to see a horror movie for Halloween. That’s the driving factor for these sorts of films, but Activity is interesting in the sense that it sat around for a while as the filmmakers tried to figure out the best ending. They went with what they went with, and then Paramount mounted a mostly viral marketing campaign for the first film. Since the movie works like gangbusters on an audience, that led to an astronomical gross for the cheaply made and advertised film, with over $100 Million domestic, and nearly $200 Million worldwide.

The sequel was less successful – it made nearly $85 Million domestically – but the franchise is based around having no names in the film, are shot with HD cameras, and involve little more than practical effects. The first film was made for $15,000 – before reshoots and marketing – and the second was done for three million. This one was likely done around a similar number, and should be in profit by Friday night. Which means we should quickly hear that they’re going to make a Paranormal Activity 4.

Paul W.S. Anderson is hated by many as a hack, but he’s made a number of successful films, and continues to peddle out his wares. And though he’s had some stumbling blocks before, he better hope that the international numbers for The Three Musketeers are better than domestic. With a cast of mostly foreign names and Milla Jovovich the film seems package for the global market.

Orlando Bloom is in the picture, and it’s funny to think that he rivals Harrison Ford as starring in six of the most successful films of all time. Ford has a leg up by appearing in a seventh (with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), but Bloom with be in Peter Jackson‘s upcoming Hobbit films. Bloom is already going to much smaller films, perhaps the result of his failure to carry the flawed Elizabethtown.

Johnny English Reborn has already made $85 Million worldwide, and its American release is mostly because the film is successful enough outside of the country that to put it out here is more courtesy than with any hopes of major money making. They’ve already made their profit, and are happy to see if they can scare up a little audience stateside. Rowan Atkinson has an American following, and they should be enough to make this marginally profitable – or it should cover prints and advertising.

The Mighty Macs is an film about a woman’s basketball team starring Carla Gugino. one would guess this is aimed at the Christian markets, but Courageous probably still has the corner on that marketplace. Such a weird release. So let’s do weekend numbers:

  1. Paranormal Activity 3 - $38.5 Million
  2. The Three Musketeers – $11 Million
  3. Real Steal – $10.3 Million
  4. Footloose – $7.6 Million
  5. Johnny English Reborn - $5.5 Million

Next week offers Puss in Boots, which should also do over $30 Million, so we’re right on the precipice of the second wave of huge releases of the year.