If it's late October, the weekend box office now belongs to Paranormal Activity.
One of the most reliably profitable franchises in the industry is set to creep out audiences in more than 3,300 locations in its debut weekend
Paramount figures Paranormal Activity will gross somewhere in the mid-$30 million range. Outside estimates predict it'll gross up to $42 million.
Either way, it's a remarkable number for a movie with a budget of $5 million -- a mint compared to the first two Paranormal installments, which came with ridiculously low price tags of $15,000 and $3 million
The weekend's other new wide releases -- Johnny English, the 3D The Three Musketeers and The Mighty Macs - look to be a mixed box office bag.
Limited openings include Kevin Spacey film Margin Call, which will debut in 50 theaters, and Fox Searchlight's Sundance hit Martha Marcy May Marlene, which will start out in four locations.
But as it has for the past two pre-Halloween weekends, the Paranormal franchise will own the box office.
In case you somehow missed it, Israeli filmmaker Oren Peli -- and studio champion Adam Goodman, now president of the Paramount Film Group -- caused an industry-wide sensation with the first Paranormal Activity in 2009. The home-spun horror film built an audience on a quirky viral campaign through the early part of the fall before going wide to an incredible $19.6 million. (Said one Paramount executive that weekend: I just bought a boat!
Ultimately, Paranormal 1 grossed nearly $194 million worldwide on a $15,000 budget. The 2010 Paranormal Activity 2 didn't let anybody down, either, opening to $40.6 million and grossing $177.5 million worldwide on a $3 million budget.
As for the latest installment, critics like it -- Paranormal 3 is registering a 78 percent fresh mark on reviews aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes as of late-day Thursday.
Christopher Landon, the Disturbia screenwriter, wrote this installment, and turned it into something like a period piece. It's set in 1988, when two young sisters, Katie and Kristi, befriend an invisible entity living in their house. The documentary maker Henry Joost directed.
Its domestic tracking is especially strong among men and women in their 20s and among older teens.
According to research firm NRG, 92 percent of males under the age of 25 know that Paranormal 3 will be in theaters -- a pretty big number. An equally impressive 51 percent of that group expresses definite interest in seeing the film, and 23 percent call it their first choice to see next time they're in a theater.
The other big release of the weekend is The Three Musketeers, Paul W.S. Anderson's 3D take on the Alexandre Dumas story.
Summit is releasing the film in 2,017 theaters in North America, but clearly states that it did not finance or produce the movie.
Constantin Film produced it at a cost of around $75 million. It has already opened in 40 international markets and has grossed $48.2 million.
The PG-13 movie's strongest tracking is among older males, 86 percent of which know about the film and 33 percent of which report definite interest in seeing it, according to NRG. Reviews are spongy-soft at 24 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Three Musketeers is expected to gross in the low double-digits this weekend.
Orlando Bloom, Logan Lerman, Christoph Waltz, Luke Evans, Mila Jovovich and Matthew Macfadyen star.
Universal, meanwhile, also isn't expecting much from Johnny English Reborn, a sequel to Rowan Atkinson's 2003 comedy.
The studio had an international audience in mind when it made the PG-rated film. And it's done well abroad. The film debuted overseas in September and is positioned to reach $100 million this weekend.
The Oliver Parker-directed movie has a budget of $45 million, and Universal executives say they'll be happy with a domestic opening of around $6 million - $8 million.
The first Johnny English grossed $132.5 million internationally and only $28 million in North America.
Universal is opening the picture at a modest 1,551 locations.
Finally, there's The Mighty Macs, opening at 975 locations.
Executives for distributor Freestyle Releasing say they expect to gross around $2 million on the film, which stars David Boreanz and Carla Gugino and was directed and written by Tim Chambers.
Focused on the true, David and Goliath story of the Cathy Rush, the head basketball coach at the tiny Immaculata College in Philadelphia, Mighty Macs has a production budget of around $7 million.
The distributor hopes the inspirational, family-friendly sports themes will draw strong word-of-mouth and bring in bigger crowds during the movie's second and third weeks.