Here’s your bit of “shocking” news for the day: Paranormal Activity 4 is happening and has an official release date.

Between Paranormal Activity 3 managing to gross over $200 million worldwide on a $5 million budget – and leaving so many plot threads dangling that the ending actually required a full-blown explanation post to really understand – the idea that Paramount Pictures would move ahead with a fourth installment in the (very) cheap faux horror documentary series was never really in doubt. Still, the studio has just only made the project actually “official.”

Paramount has settled on an October 19th, 2012 U.S. theatrical release date for Paranormal Activity 4; there, it will face off against the star-studded rom-com The Wedding and period crime drama Gangster Squad. However, there is going to be direct competition for the scare-hungry crowd a week later, when Halloween 3(D) hits the scene.

Paranormal Activity stalwart producers Jason Blum, Oren Peli, and Steven Schneider will all be collaborating again on the fourth entry in the series. There’s no official word yet on whether either screenwriter Christopher Landon (who worked on the scripts for both the second and third PA flicks) or PA 3 directing duo Henry Joost and Ari Schulman will be returning for the fourth round of supernatural mayhem. Considering that each of the previous movies featured a different helmer(s), it seems likely that PA 4 will follow suit.

[UPDATE: BD Horror News is reporting that Joost and Schulman are prepped to direct PA 4. However, it’s not yet clear whether they have already officially signed on for the film or are simply in talks.]

There were several semi-plot holes (or ambiguous plot points) in PA 3 which seem to lend themselves naturally to an explanation in the latest installment; that would also allow the creative minds behind this series to continue fleshing out the mythology they’ve spent a good chunk of the last three movies developing. Don’t be surprised if PA 4 ends up being another partial (or full) prequel to the original Paranormal Activity (much like the last two installments) for that reason.

It’s been said before, but bears repeating here: you should know by now whether you find the PA movies to be cleverly-crafted minimalistic spookfests… or increasingly-predictable snoozefests. All the same, here’s to hoping that Paranormal Activity 4 boasts enough in the way of ingenious scares and plot twists to keep things interesting for the franchise’s still-loyal fans.

Source: Paramount Pictures (via THR)