Surprise strike 'Paranormal Activity' scares money out of moviegoers

The new horror movie "Paranormal Activity" could be filling movie studio marketing departments with horror.

Using a campaign of limited showings, social media and word-of-mouth fan buzz, the film has managed to become a breakout hit without the aid of a showy marketing campaign or even a traditional movie trailer.

According to Variety, the very low-budget film (it reportedly cost $11,000), which played in fewer than 200 theaters, raked in $7.1 million over the weekend, a record for a limited-release film. The film had an impressive $44,163 per-screen average and placement in the top five of the box office ratings over the weekend.

"We think it's thrilling that they are taking this grassroots approach to independent film because sometimes independent films do get lost in the shamble," said Kevin Carr, a writer/reviewer for the site Film School Rejects. "It's a unique test to see if people can demand things outside of standard marketing campaigns."

"Paranormal Activity" bills itself as "the first-ever major film release demanded by you."

The movie, which was an audience favorite at the alternative Slamdance festival in early 2008, was acquired by Dreamworks (then a part of Paramount Pictures) two years ago.

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