News + Notes

'The Devil Inside': Scary Box Office

Possession flick delivers big bucks despite (or because of?) abysmal CinemaScore

It may not be The Exorcist, but the recent movie The Devil Inside — much like priests attending to a possessed Linda Blair — is seeing plenty of green. Despite poor reviews, the faux-documentary horror film managed to take in $33.7 million in its opening weekend, the third-biggest January opening ever — especially impressive given its tiny $1 million budget. Part of that feat is thanks to the film's marketing team, which employed a bag of tricks that included a well-constructed trailer, ubiquitous posters, Twitter campaigns, and a running line about how much the Catholic Church doesn't want you to see the film. ''It really gives you the flexibility when a movie is at a certain price,'' says Josh Greenstein, Paramount's chief marketing officer. ''You can take some risks and not look at it like you have to make back a fixed number.'' The film's success indicates that this probably won't be the last we see of this genre: More found-footage horror on the way includes the upcoming Sundance entry V/H/S, Barry Levinson's eco-thriller The Bay, and, of course, the recently announced Paranormal Activity 4.

Even Scarier: Devil's Solid F Cinema Score
Its box office was strong, but The Devil Inside's weekend was tarnished by an extremely poor letter grade. Very few films manage to get the lowest grade, an F, from audience opinion aggregator CinemaScore. The last with that dubious distinction was 2009's The Box. ''It doesn't happen often,'' says CinemaScore founder Ed Mintz, adding that his algorithm makes it hard for films to score so low. ''Suddenly it's like, 'Wow, it got an F?' and the movie becomes more interesting than the ones that got B's and C's.''

Originally posted Jan 13, 2012 Published in issue #1190 Jan 20, 2012 Order article reprints