'Paranormal' came, conquered 'Saw' -- and box office

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The Independent Culture

Low-budget sensation "Paranormal Activity" slayed its horror film competitors including "Saw VI" to claim North America's pre-Halloween box office, weekend estimates showed Sunday on the heels of rave word-of-mouth reviews and clever marketing.

Much like the "Paranormal" story line, its own backstory has neared the realm of supernatural, given that the movie made for a paltry 11,000 dollars has raked in 62.4 million, including 22 million this weekend, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The film, whose ingenious online marketing and use of web buzz has rivaled that of 1999 indie "The Blair Witch Project," bested the latest installment of the "Saw" films, an established horror juggernaut that has grossed more than 680 million dollars worldwide since 2004.

"Saw VI" debuted at number two, with 14.8 million dollars.

Narrowly behind in third and still causing a rumpus was "Where the Wild Things Are," director Spike Jonze's live action rendering of the beloved children's book, which opened at number one the previous week.

The Warner Bros.-backed screen adaptation of Maurice Sendak's 1963 picture book about a rebellious boy who sails away to an island populated by giant toothy monsters earned 14.4 million dollars in its second weekend.

"Law Abiding Citizen," a thriller about a man bent on avenging the deaths of his slain family, slipped two spots to fourth, earning 12.7 million dollars.

Former number one "Couples Retreat" starring comic favorites Vince Vaughn and Jason Bateman came in at fifth in its third week, scoring 11.1 million dollars.

Debuting in sixth spot was "Astro Boy," a 3-D animated feature film about the futuristic robot who first came to life in the 1950s as a character in the beloved Japanese science fiction manga series of the same name. The film earned 7.0 million dollars.

Horror flick "The Stepfather," the remake of a 1987 thriller, earned 6.5 million dollars in seventh spot.

The latest teen vampire vehicle, "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," based on a popular young adult book franchise, entered the fray at number eight, earning 6.3 million dollars.

"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," the animated tale of an island rained on by junk food, fell three spots to ninth, earning 5.6 million dollars. It has enjoyed a fanciful run, raking in a six-week total of 115 million.

Tongue-in-cheek comedy "Zombieland" rounded out the top 10, with 4.3 million dollars.