Have you heard about “Paranormal Activity”? The no budget horror movie shot for $15,000 in the director’s San Diego home has become an internet sensation that reminds many of “The Blair Witch Project.”
This weekend, PA made $7 million, ranking fifth in box office standing. What’s surprising about this? The fact that PA averaged $44,163 on only 160 screens with no marketing budget to speak of. Compare that to the weekend’s number one movie, “Couples Retreat,” which debuted on 3,000 screens with an average of $11,780 per.
“Paranormal Activity” got its start at Slamdance, and independent film festival in 2008. After just one screening, the internet went crazy with fan reaction. Terrifying. Horrifying. Intense. Then nothing. Paramount bought the movie, under the discerning eye of Steven Spielberg, and shelved the movie as a possible remake. After those attempts failed, Paramount released the movie at midnight screenings in L.A. and select college towns.
The reaction was so rabid, the studio teamed with Eventful, a user-generated entertainment booking site, to create a web site where users could demand that PA come to their city. The site promised that enough votes would bring the movie.
So with a website, a killer trailer and early positive reviews via the Twitter nation, “Paranormal Activity” made $532,242 at only 33 theaters last weekend. That success leads to this weekend’s expansion. And with this weekend’s big numbers, the “Paranormal” momentum moves on.
Now billed as “The first ever major film release decided by you,” the site boasts that over a million votes clamoring for the film is responsible for the scares coming to local theaters across the country.
This social media success story stayed true to the formula of any great viral marketing campaign by having an incredible product that feels exclusive, being free of any mainstream marketing interference and providing users the chance to be part of the story.
(Watch the trailer and see if you are brave enough to discover what is causing all of the “Paranormal Activity.”)