One Year Ago: Catching Up with 'Paranormal Activity 2,' 'Hereafter,' and More

One Year Ago: Catching Up with 'Paranormal Activity 2,' 'Hereafter,' and More

Oct 21, 2011

Johnny English RebornIt's a great weekend at the multiplex for people who like movies based on other movies that they have already seen. In other words, it's a great weekend for EVERYBODY! Have you been hoping for a sequel to Johnny English? Then you're in luck, because-- wait, really? You not only saw Johnny English but have been hoping for a sequel? Huh. Anyway, he's being Reborn this weekend, so mazel tov to him. You might also consider Paranormal Activity 3, a prequel to Paranormal Activity 2, which was a prequel to Paranormal Activity. Paranormal Activity 4 will take place at the dawn of time. Oh, and don't forget about Paul W.S. Anderson's version of The Three Musketeers! I saw it! It's every bit as stupid as you would expect Paul W.S. Anderson's version of The Three Musketeers to be!

But while you're reveling in this surplus of fantastic new offerings, take a moment to recall the movies that graced our lives at this time a year ago. Come with me now as we go back 52 weeks and see if things were any better then.

The weekend of Oct. 22-24, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2

Paranormal Activity 2
Starring video cameras and ghosts.

Well! Looks like we got ourselves a case of deja vu! In a coincidence so eerie it makes me want to point a video camera at my iMac for a few days, I see that Paranormal Activity 3 is opening on the same exact weekend that Paranormal Activity 2 opened on last year! Surely the devil himself is behind this.

It made a shload of money, too -- $40.7 million opening weekend, on its way to $84.8 million in the U.S. and $92.8 million overseas. (I'll do the math for you: that's $177.6 million for a movie that cost $98 to make.) While the first Paranormal Activity had opened without press screenings a year earlier, this sequel got the more traditional treatment -- as if it were a real movie that Paramount was taking seriously! Huh! The reviews were only so-so (59% positive at Rotten Tomatoes), but that didn't hurt the box office, and it avoided the "we wouldn't let critics see this" stigma.

A couple of the actors from PA2 make brief appearances in PA3 but have mostly maintained their policy of being obscure. The director of that film, Tod Williams, was not invited back for round three, and is also considering a life of obscurity. Oh, but remember the teenage girl from PA2? She's on Tim Allen's new sitcom, Last Man Standing! I saw ten minutes of it and decided I would rather be murdered by ghosts than continue watching it, but still, good for her.



Starring Matt Damon and ghosts.

Technically, this Clint Eastwood-directed drama about death had opened a week earlier, on six screens. But it was on this date that it went wide and served as the only new competition to PA2. Not that it provided much competition: it made $12 million this weekend and a total of just $32.7 million in the United States. Foreign territories were kinder to it -- $72.5 million -- and it made a profit, but it was a critical disappointment (46% positive at Rotten Tomatoes), and a bust come awards season. Eastwood retaliated by making Leonardo DiCaprio play J. Edgar Hoover in a movie that will be released in a few weeks.

Hey, look what else opened a year ago!

Uh, nothing. Just about, anyway. There was The Taqwacores, about a fictitious Islamic punk rock band, which had premiered at Sundance and on this date opened in one theater and eventually made $11,000. And there was Inhale, with Dermot Mulroney and Diane Kruger desperately searching for a new lung for their daughter. It opened on twice as many screens as The Taqwacores (i.e., two), and while it only made a total of $4,115 in the United States, it also pulled in $50,974 overseas, so we'll probably be seeing a sequel pretty soon.

And what about FIVE years ago??

Oct. 20, 2006 was crazy busy: The Prestige, Flags of Our Fathers, Flicka, Marie Antoinette, Running with Scissors, and a 3D rerelease of The Nightmare Before Christmas all crammed themselves into theaters the way shoppers cram themselves into JC Penney the day after Thanksgiving, and with equally grisly results.

(All box office figures are from Box Office Mojo.)

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