LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Low-budget fright film "Paranormal Activity" scored a kill over the sixth picture in the perennial "Saw" franchise, with a pre-Halloween weekend box office draw of $22 million.
Lionsgate's "Saw VI" took in $14.8 million. The results were the worst in the series' history -- the first five "Saw" films had an average opening weekend of $29.1 million, according to box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. The horror series features a killer who calls himself Jigsaw and puts his victims in deadly contraptions to torture them.
"Paranormal" went into wider release by Paramount after playing to sellout crowds at midnight-only screenings over the past few weekends in a handful of markets determined by online balloting.
Taking a page from the playbook of 1999's underground smash "The Blair Witch Project," the Viacom Inc unit is letting the fans do the marketing through such social-networking sites as Twitter. Its own marketing costs have been minimal.
Paramount bought the $15,000 movie last year at the Slamdance Film Festival, an indie rival of the concurrent Sundance festival in Utah.
Last weekend's top movie, "Where the Wild Things Are," which was adapted from the acclaimed Maurice Sendak children's book, dropped to the No. 3 spot with $14.4 million.
"Wild Things" was released by Time Warner Inc unit Warner Bros Pictures.
Other new releases included Summit Entertainment's "Astro Boy," which came in No. 6 with $7.0 million and Universal's "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" at No. 8 with a take of $6.3 million.
Fox Searchlight's Amelia Earhart biopic "Amelia" crashed on take-off, debuting at No. 11 with a box office draw of just $4 million. The distributor is a unit of News Corp.