"Paranormal Activity 4" began scaring moviegoers a little earlier than expected with screenings beginning at 9 PM on Thursday night.  That led the fourth installment in the Paramount franchise to gross a strong $4.5 million from "midnight" shows. That's significantly down from the $8 million "Paranormal Activity 3" found from early shows a year ago. 

"PA3" went on to open to $52.6 million and, as most horror movies do, quickly dropped off grossing $104 million domestic. "PA4" is expected to open closer to $40 million which is more in line with "Paranormal Activity 2's" opening in 2010.  No matter how it performs, "PA4" is already a major profit center for Paramount Pictures considering it only cost $4 million to produce.

The other major opening this weekend is Rob Cohen's "Alex Cross" starring Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox.  The reboot of the James Patterson crime thriller franchise is tracking at just a $13 million debut, but polling could be underestimating the pull of Perry's fanbase (as it has in the past).

"Argo" should have another strong outing in its second weekend. The Ben Affleck drama was consistently the top grosser Monday through Thursday and has collected $26.5 million. "Taken 2" and "Sinister" will also be major players in the top five grossers this weekend.

Look for box office updates all weekend on HitFix.