‘Paranormal Activity’ scares up $34 million overseas in first two weeks


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‘Paranormal Activity’ has racked up solid early ticket sales overseas, as the surprise of the year at the domestic box office has proved a big hit in the United Kingdom, France and Australia, but bombed in Germany. Total international grosses so far are $34 million.

Unlike in the U.S. and Canada, where Paramount Pictures relied on word-of-mouth from early midnight screenings and Internet advertising, foreign distributors relied on more traditional marketing campaigns because many moviegoers had already heard about the movie following spectacular domestic performance earlier this fall.


‘[Foreign] distributors had less time to prepare the audience and there was already high levels of awareness, so they pushed it out like a mainstream genre film,’ said Stuart Ford, chief executive of IM Global, which served as foreign sales agent for picture.

The independently produced horror flick, which was made for just $15,000 and grossed $107.4 million for Paramount domestically, has been No. 1 at the U.K. box office for two weekends straight, selling a total of $11.8 million worth of tickets. In France it opened at No. 2 this past weekend, collecting $5.3 million, and in Australia it debuted at No. 1, grossing $2.5 million. In Germany, however, it has grossed just $2 million over two weeks, a low mark for what is traditionally one of the biggest overseas movie markets. Ford attributed that to the ‘hit and miss’ nature of the supernatural horror genre in the country and an unsuccessful attempt by its German distributor to mimic the American viral campaign.

‘Paranormal Activity’ has also performed solidly so far in Spain and Brazil. Ford said he is expecting particularly strong results in Latin America, where the movie starts rolling out this Friday with its Mexican bow, and in Japan, where it debuts next year.

Movie producers typically receive about 40% of a movie’s international gross. A percentage of foreign theater revenue for ‘Paranormal’ will be kept by IM Global, with the rest going to the movie’s producers, including director Oren Peli. Ford noted that his company and the movie’s producers -- not exactly a surprise given their lucky stroke -- received extremely high advances for the film after its amazing run in the U.S.

--Ben Fritz