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This past weekend Paranormal Activity 3 set a whole slew of new records. The movie now holds the top spot for midnight opener for a horror film (bringing in $8 million), best opening day for a horror film in the US ($26.2 million) and best opening for a October/fall movie ($54 million). What makes it a true success, though, is that the whole movie cost only $5 million to make, which - while making it the most expensive movie on the franchise - will still make the movie insanely profitable. It's for this reason that we may never see the end of Paranormal Activity movies, but here's the big question: where does the plot go from here?
WARNING: THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT THE PARANORMAL ACTIVITY MOVIES. DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW MAJOR DETAILS.
Those that saw the movie may recognize that the franchise has managed to paint itself into a corner. For starters, they can't go back in the timeline any more, as they would have to jump through some serious hoops in order to explain why or how one of the characters is filming all the time. Next, the new movie explains fairly thoroughly where the demon, aka Toby, comes from, so they can't really go any further with that. Lastly, every main character with the exception of Katie is now very, very dead. Putting some thought into it, I've come up with three possibilities for the future of the Paranormal Activity franchise.
The first Paranormal Activity movie took place in 2006. Paranormal Activity 2 was set around the same time, but featured events that occurred prior to those in the first film. Finally, Paranormal Activity 3 mostly took place in 1988. What this means is that the furthest we've gotten in the timeline is Katie stealing her sister's baby, Hunter, and disappearing, the first two movies ending with title cards saying that Katie's whereabouts are unknown. But six years (which it would be in 2012) is a long time. Perhaps the woman and child and have changed their identities to avoid capture and Katie has found a new beau that she plans to torture. This would add a new spin on the franchise, as the audience will know the source of the evil and will be telling the new male lead to run away as fast as he can at every moment. The other option here is someone finding Katie and attempting an exorcism, but thanks to The Last Exorcism that would come across as a knockoff.
This would be the easiest one to do, as it would require zero real creativity on the part of Oren Peli, the series creator, and the filmmakers he hires for the fourth movie. What's the route? Start things off again with a new family and a new demon. Considering that the first three movies are almost identical in terms of structure, I can't tell how much this would really upset the fanbase: as long as they get the same scares and found-footage set-up they may be satisfied. The biggest roadblock here could be Katie Featherston, who fans have grown to absolutely love (my early screening of Paranormal Activity 3 in Los Angeles erupted when she appeared on screen for all of two seconds). If they could find a way to link her into the story it could be fine.
This is easily the least likely route for the franchise, as it's the format that allows Paramount Pictures to keep costs insanely low and profit margins through the roof, but one option for the next movie is to abandon the found footage style. This could be beneficial in two ways: 1) it would allow more creative freedom, as technology would no longer play a factor and 2) audiences wouldn't always be questioning why the main character is carrying around a camera. Much like taking away Katie, however, fans could also negatively react to the format change, as it's a big part of the movies' atmosphere.
So those are our three ideas, what are yours? What would you like to see in the fourth Paranormal Activity movie? Leave your thoughts, questions and concerns in the comments section below.
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