A low-budget, Latino-targeted horror offshoot could steal enough souls to possess the box office over the weekend. But to do so, it will have to out-draw a "Hobbit" sequel and "Frozen," which are both enjoying a strong holiday season.
It could make for a tight three-way race for the top of the box-office rankings. "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" continues to attract Middle-earth fans with sales of more than $209 million in the U.S. and Canada as of Wednesday and has topped the competition over the last three weekends.
The scare-fest, directed by Christopher B. Landon (who has writing credits for the last three "Paranormal Activity" movies), could continue a string of inexpensive frightening features that have performed well at theaters in the last year. The $15-million "Mama," executive-produced by Guillermo Del Toro, opened with $28.4 million when it debuted last January, and went on to take in $71.6 million. "Mama" also had serious pull with Latinos.
"Insidious: Chapter 2," released in September, scared up a lifetime domestic total of $83.6 million on a production budget of $5 million, after the $3-million "The Purge" grossed $64.5 million following its June release.
"The Marked Ones" is the weekend's only new wide release in a still-crowded film marketplace, joining a slate of holdovers that includes two other Paramount movies -- "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" and Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" -- along with David O. Russell's con-artist romp "American Hustle," Disney's "Saving Mr. Banks" and 20th Century Fox's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."
"Paranormal Activity 5," not a follow-up to "The Marked Ones," is set for release in October.