Box-office prognosticators, beware: "The Devil Inside" defied all industry expectations with its $34.5 million debut this weekend.
That's more than double where most estimates put the film just a few days ago. And despite mixed reviews, the supernatural horror thriller earned more than 34 times its estimated production budget of less than $1 million.
Perhaps the devil is in the details: "Devil" made 49 percent of its weekend total on Friday and was the only new wide release in theaters, with the exception of the acclaimed drama "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." The Cold War era espionage tale, which expanded to 809 locations, had the weekend's second-best per-screen average, just behind "Devil" at 2,285 locations.
Nevertheless, the Paramount-distributed "Devil" had the third-biggest January opening ever, just behind 2008's "Cloverfield" and the 1997 re-release of the first "Star Wars." "Devil" was acquired by the Paramount imprint Insurge, which was created after the success of the first "Paranormal Activity" in 2009.
Paramount was the studio behind the weekend's second biggest movie of the weekend as well. "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is the best-reviewed film of the Tom Cruise franchise and dropped a respectable 30 percent after a nice run at the top of the heap. "Ghost Protocol" earned $20.5 million for a total of $170.2 million, which should put it past the first "M:I" movie in a few days.
"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" made $14.1 million in its fourth week of release to come in at #3. The sequel was #1 at the box office in other parts of the world and has made a total of $157.4 million domestically. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" had the best hold of any of the previously wide-released movies over the weekend, dropping just 24 percent. "Dragon Tattoo" was #4 with $11.3 million for a $76.8 million three-week total. The animated "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" rounded out the top five with $9.5 million for a four-week total of $111.6 million.
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