Horror movie "Paranormal Activity 3" jolted awake a sleepy movie box office with an estimated $80 million in global ticket sales over the weekend.
The third installment of the low-budget haunted house movies topped domestic charts with $54 million from U.S. and Canadian theaters, the highest-grossing domestic debut for a horror film and a record for an October release.
The movie added $26 million from international markets over the weekend, distributor Paramount Pictures said on Sunday.
Like the first two films in the series, "Paranormal 3" was released just before Halloween and produced on a budget tiny by Hollywood standards. The latest movie, the most expensive of the trio, cost $5 million to make.
The film opened with after-midnight showings on Thursday night and easily beat the studio's forecast for a domestic debut of around $35 million. The movie is a prequel about two young sisters and their creepy encounters with an invisible presence in their home, all recorded by surveillance cameras.
A largely positive response from critics helped bring in an older-than-25 crowd in addition to the teenagers and young adults who usually flock to horror flicks, said Don Harris, Paramount's president of domestic distribution.
"This is the best of the series. It was well-reviewed," Harris said, adding that "people like to be scared in a Hitchcock-ian way. This isn't a bloody franchise."
The film's strong performance boosted a sluggish box office that has limped along sharply below last year for several weekends this fall following a record summer. This weekend's top 12 films grossed 45 percent more than last weekend's, although 6 percent less than the same weekend a year ago, according to figures from Hollywood.com Box Office.
Robot boxing movie "Real Steel," the domestic box-office champ the past two weekends, slipped to second place with $11.3 million at North American (U.S. and Canadian) theaters. The film, starring Hugh Jackman as a father who bonds with his son as they restore a battle-ready robot, has earned $153.3 million globally through its first three weekends of release.
A remake of 1980s dance classic "Footloose" finished third on the domestic charts with $10.9 million, dropping just 30 percent from its debut weekend and earning a total of $30.9 million to date.
New release "The Three Musketeers," a 3D action version of the classic novel about a sword-fighting trio, finished in fourth place with a weaker-than-expected $8.8 million. Critics were not enthused with the film, with just 28 percent giving a positive review on movie website Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences polled by survey firm CinemaScore gave the film a B rating on average.
Overseas, the movie has grossed $64.4 million for a combined global total standing at $73.2 million.
Comedy "Johnny English Reborn" debuted in the North American market at eighth place with a dismal $3.8 million. But the film starring British "Mr. Bean" actor Rowan Atkinson as a bumbling secret agent has already chalked up success overseas, pulling in $104.5 million in international markets since its release five weeks ago.
Fifth place domestically went to George Clooney's political thriller "The Ides of March," which brought in $4.9 million during its third weekend of release. Clooney has directed, co-written and co-starred in the film about a primary fight between two presidential candidates.
Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc, released "Paranormal Activity 3" and "Footloose." Summit Entertainment distributed "The Three Musketeers." Walt Disney Co released "Real Steel," which was produced by DreamWorks. "Johnny English Reborn" was released by Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp, and Sony Corp unit Columbia Pictures released "The Ides of March."