Horror threequel/prequel ‘Paranormal Activity 3’ scared up a frightful amount of money this weekend, setting a record for the biggest horror movie opening ever. With an estimated $54.0 million opening, it handily defeated this weekend’s other two new wide releases, ‘The Three Musketeers’ and ‘Johnny English Reborn.’

Even before it opened, ‘Paranormal 3’ had scared off most of the usual October horror competition. It was expected to open big, in the range of $36 to $41 million, based on the $40.6 million opening for last October’s installment. But that lack of competition (including from the now-completed ‘Saw’ franchise, which overlapped with the first two ‘Paranormal’ movies in 2009 and 2010), clever marketing, strong advanced buzz, and an audience starved for reliable brand-name franchise entertainment combined to create a massive demand for the latest picture in the found-footage franchise. (On the downside, ‘Paranormal Activity 3’ earned a “C+” grade on Cinemascore, meaning the film could tumble during weekend two; ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ had a “B” rating last fall, and still dropped 59 percent in its second frame.)


The full top 10:
1. ‘Paranormal Activity 3,’ $54.0 million (3,321 screens), new release
2. ‘Real Steel,’ $11.3 million (3,412), $67.2 million total
3. ‘Footloose,’ $10.9 million (3,555) $30.9 million
4. ‘The Three Musketeers,’ $8.8 million (3.017), new release
5. ‘The Ides of March,’ $4.9 million (2,042), $29.2 million
6. ‘Dolphin Tale,’ $4.2 million (2,858), $64.4 million
7. ‘Moneyball,’ $4.1 million (2,353), $63.7 million
8. ‘Johnny English Reborn,’ $3.8 (1,552), new release
9. ‘The Thing,’ $3.1 million (2,995), $14.1 million
10. ’50/50,’ $2.8 million (1,932), $28.8 million