Oh Hollywood, you would make me laugh if you didn't make me want to cry.
A couple of days ago we wrote about an upcoming British horror film called The Possession of David O’Reilly, which is a "shockumentary" (guess that's the new buzz term for found-footage horror flicks) about a demonic spiriting terrorizing a young couple in a London flat. That same post foretold of a movie industry gold rush attempt to recreate the smashing success of Paranormal Activity, a small film from director Oren Peli made for $11K, which has gone on to gross $86 million domestically. The decision NOT to remake Paranormal Activity into a big-budget film turned out to be a wise choice for Paramount, which is now swimming in unexpected (and substantial) profits.
But was that brief flash a wisdom a fluke? I ask because now comes word that Paramount is now moving ahead with Paranormal Activity 2.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Viacom (which owns Paramount) CEO Philippe Dauman made the opening statements about a Paranormal Activity sequel during an earnings call meeting yesterday morning. While acknowledging that PA has been something of a surprise (for both moviegoers and the studio), Dauman just as quickly acknowledged that a sequel would lack the element of surprise that has made PA a runaway hit. According to Dauman, "Our team will come up with the right creative and marketing approach to make sure that we benefit from a sequel..."
Now I'm betting that over half of you (the ones old enough to remember) are already making the mental jump back to the year 2000 when Artisan Entertainment tried to cash in on its own low-budget success story by offering us the abominably bad Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows. That movie got slapped with a much bigger budget than Blair Witch's $60,000 price tag, only to crash and burn in theaters. So what will be Paramount's "creative approach" to avoiding such a catastrophe? "Bigger budget" and "logical progression of the story" are the two pitch-points that instantly spring to my mind, at least.
People are pretty much split over Paranormal Activity, but you can't deny that the film is a simple ghost story - the sort you used to hear while sitting in the pitch dark around the fire pit at summer camp. The great things about those old ghost stories? They always remained intact (for the most part) no matter who was telling the tale or how many times the story got re-told to a new generation of campers. In fact, if somebody ever told the story wrong, there were enough people familiar with it to call them out!
We all know this is Hollyweird we're talking about, but trying to take a new-age "campfire ghost story" like Paranormal Activity and stretch it out into a horror franchise cash-cow seems like a doomed venture. You've already got a portion of the audience feeling like the first film was a rip-off (see our comment section), and what about the multiple endings to the movie? Some people are going to tell you there's no room for a sequel; other will say there TOTALLY is room (and need) for one - it all depends on which ending they saw in theaters.
Rest assured, however it shapes up, Paranormal Activity 2 is coming - the profit margins guarantee it. Will it be done right? I don't know - has something like this EVER been handled correctly by Hollywood? Sound off and let me know what you think.