The PBCS Movie Standings: A “Paranormal” Boot for “Puss”

Last week, "Paranormal Activity 3" nearly destroyed our proprietary PBCS formula thanks to its winning combination of low budget, good reviews, and enormous box office returns. Did it crush the competition yet again this week? Well, your box office figures look like this, according to Rotten Tomatoes:

1. Puss In Boots - $34.0M
2. Paranormal Activity 3 - $18.5M
3. In Time - $12.0M
4. Footloose - $5.4M
5. The Rum Diary - $5.0M
6. Real Steel - $4.7M
7. The Three Musketeers - $3.5M
8. The Ideas of March - $2.7M
9. Moneyball - $2.4M
10. Courageous - $1.8M

But those numbers fail to take into account the fact that "Puss" cost $130 million to produce. Holy smokes, that's a lotta Puss. It barely recouped a quarter of that investment over the weekend, which makes it something of an abject failure. True, we don't include international box office when we do these rankings, but we don't include the price to market those movies overseas, either. If we plug everything into the PBCS Nerdmatic 3000, here's what we get instead:

1. Paranormal Activity 3 - 1,736
2. Martha Marcy May Marlene - 194
3. Margin Call - 154
4. Like Crazy - 153
5. Puss In Boots - 120
6. Courageous - 95
7. The Ides of March - 78
8. 50/50 - 64
9. Footloose - 48
10. Moneyball - 38

Noticing a trend? The top four movies this week were all produced for under $5 million. Keep it in mind come the end of the year, when you find the Oscar race overrun with tiny little indie pictures and studio heads cursing everyone out as a result. The Four M's (I'm not spelling out that freakin' title again) and "Like Crazy," were also boosted by big per-theater averages. You get that when critics really like your film and you've made the strategic decision to limit distribution. Both "In Time" and "The Rum Diary" were so poorly received, and did such tepid business, that they didn't even make our chart, nor did Roland Emmerich's Shakespeare drama "Anonymous," whose low grosses are almost certainly a conspiracy perpetrated by The Bard's ancestors.

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