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Box office: 'Paranormal Activity' spinoff scares up ticket sales

Coming out of a holiday season led by the festive "Frozen" and a "Hobbit" sequel, the low-budget "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" is staking a claim for big-screen chills as the new year gets underway.

A spinoff from the found-footage franchise that has generated more than $350 million domestically so far, "The Marked Ones" earned an estimated $8.7 million on Friday to top the box office charts heading into the weekend.

The thriller is expected to earn between $25 million and $30 million this weekend, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys, and it could continue a string of inexpensive horror films that performed well at the box office last year, including "Mama" and "Insidious: Chapter 2." "Paranormal Activity 5," a film not tied to the story of "The Marked Ones," is also due in October.

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In second place heading into Saturday, the animated Disney musical "Frozen" earned an estimated $6.7 million, which brought it ever closer to topping the $300-million mark in sales (the film has earned $283 million thus far).

Not far behind in third place, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" earned an estimated $5.1 million. Elsewhere in a weekend short on new releases, a pair of would-be Oscar contenders rounded out the top five. Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" earned an estimated $4.3 million, followed by David O. Russel's "American Hustle," which took in $4.1 million, according to estimates.

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Twitter: @chrisbarton

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