With the supposed “final” Paranormal Activity installment, The Ghost Dimension, heading to theaters next weekend, you’d think the folks at Paramount would be pulling out all the stops and excitedly getting ready to start raking in the cash, especially considering it’s the first to be released in 3D. However, due to the studio’s implementation of a risky release strategy for the film – shortening the “window” between its theatrical and VOD availability – several major chains are refusing to show it, thereby cutting the number of locations where you can see it by over 50%.
Here’s how The Wrap breaks it down: “Regal Cinemas and Cinemark, the nation’s largest and third-largest chains, are among several exhibitors refusing to play The Ghost Dimension since Paramount struck a deal with rivals AMC Theatres and Cineplex Entertainment in July to allow consumers to watch the movie at home just 17 days after it leaves most theaters, rather than the standard 90 days. Carmike Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, and Harkins Theatres have said they will not book the film, while the Landmark Theatres, Alamo Drafthouse, and National Amusement chains will. Exhibitors will receive an unspecified percentage of the studio’s digital revenue.”
As a result, The Ghost Dimension will appear on only 1,350 screens, less than half the 2,867 locations of its predecessor, The Marked Ones. Its earning projection is just $11 million (PA3‘s opening weekend take was a franchise high $53.5 million in over 3,300 theaters while The Marked Ones‘ haul was a respectable $18 million).
Why is this a big deal? It could “disrupt a business model that has since the onset of the VCR been the standard for Hollywood studios, theater owners, and moviegoers.” Sure, right now Paramount is just testing the waters with lowly horror films (they’ll be using the same program for Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse a week after The Ghost Dimension‘s release), but “Viacom-owned Paramount is considering expanding the strategy and will assess the per-theater returns on the film as well as the VOD numbers in making the call.”
It seems an odd choice for a film series that was built on word-of-mouth and is best enjoyed as a shared experience with other fans. And that doesn’t even take into account all the 3D-boosted money Paramount seems to leaving on the table. This will be an interesting situation to watch… TV viewing has certainly changed over the past few years. Are movies far behind?
Gregory Plotkin’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension will open in 3D on October 23, 2015. Olivia Taylor Dudley, Chloe Csengery, Maria Olsen, Brit Shaw, Aiden Lovekamp, Jessica Tyler Brown, Ivy George, Chris J. Murray, Nathan Brewer, and Michael Krawic star.
The Ghost Dimension follows a new family, The Fleeges – father Ryan (Chris J. Murray), mother Emily (Brit Shaw), and their young daughter, Leila (Ivy George) – who move into a house and discover a video camera and a box of tapes in the garage. When they look through the camera’s lens, they begin to see the paranormal activity happening around them – including the re-emergence of young Kristi and Katie.