The Paranormal Activity franchise is used to minimal budgets, but maximum impact at the box office. With Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension looking to embrace a new theatrical / VOD release model, it looks like theaters are looking to turn their backs on the final installment – which doesn’t worry Paramount one bit.
The Hollywood Reporter has reported that "many theater circuits" have decided not to carry the latest entry in the horror franchise, out of protest against a deal that the studio has struck with a handful of theater chains. This rejection puts Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension in the position to only open in only 1,400 theaters, which is a massive reduction from the 2,883 that Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones debuted on last year.
This would probably make most other distributors and studios wary of the new model that Paramount is trying to spearhead, but their general attitude is that they’ll make up whatever money they lose because of the drop in screens showing the film in theaters. Honestly, it looks like they’re right to feel that way, as the theatrical grosses for the Paranormal Activity series – a franchise that used to be a Halloween staple, much like Saw was – have dropped to the point where the luster is clearly off of the film’s star. Not to mention, theaters are forgetting the main portion of this agreement: the VOD release doesn’t kick in until 17 days after the theatrical release.
For a title like Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, or even Paramount’s other film slated for testing the VOD experiment, Scout’s Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse, the box office window is limited. Both titles are programmed as Halloween fare, and once the season is over, neither title is really going to be all that hot on the market. They open when horror films are most in demand, they make all the money they can in the weekends surrounding the Halloween holiday, and they start to slip further and further down the totem pole. With VOD taking over right when the theatrical boom for such titles has waned, a second wave of profit could come Paramount’s way. That's more profit they’ve agreed to share with the theater chains as well, as part of the agreement is to pass on a portion of the earnings back to the theaters.
This isn’t as revolutionary as the Theater / VOD / DVD model that Steven Soderbergh’s Bubble attempted back in 2006, but it is a new model that could help the studio and movie theaters push new product on more screens a little faster, and make some more money in the process. If theaters weren’t trying so hard to resist it, maybe this model could work like gangbusters for all involved. One thing is for certain though: if you’re a theater that’s not showing Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension on opening weekend, you’re probably going to be in a bad position with your loyal patrons.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is set to be released on October 23.