As further proof that audiences love a good post-holiday scare, the micro-budget exorcism drama "Devil Inside" is on its way to a record-breaking opening weekend. The Paramount acquisition scared up $16.8 million on Friday (boosted by stellar midnight numbers), and should end up with around $30 million this weekend, which would make it the biggest debut for a film to open in the first half of January.
In the tradition of the "Paranormal Activity" franchise, the faux documentary -- about a woman who takes part in multiple exorcists after her own mother was possessed -- was picked up by Paramount's new micro-budget arm Insurge Pictures for a paltry sum of $1 million. The film made back twice that number in midnight showings alone. Although most reviews have been negative, the film's weekend figures are bigger than Paramount initially predicted, driven by younger audiences.
January seems to be a good time to release horror films, with such recent titles such as "The Unborn" (2009), "Cloverfield" (2008), "Underworld: Evolution" and "Hostel" (2006) all enjoying strong opening numbers.
Bumped from the top spot is last week's No. 1 grosser, the Tom Cruise sequel "Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol," which picked up another $6.2 million on Friday. It's expected to make around $19 million this weekend, bringing its domestic total up to a formidable $169 million.
Another sequel, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" came in third, nabbing $4.2 million. The Robert Downey Jr. film is currently up to $147.6 million. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and "War Horse" round out the top five, earning, respectively, $3.5 million and $2.6 million.
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" snuck into the top 10 after expanding its theater count to 800 (from 57). The John LeCarre adaptation, starring Gary Oldman, earned $1.7 million on Friday, bringing its domestic total up to $6.3 million.
Look for complete weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.
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