What started as a very low budget independent flick shot in 8 days, turned into the sub-genre that we now call ‘found footage’. While The Blair Witch Project wasn’t the first movie to use this style, it was the one that turned the most heads and gave studios the courage to try something new. 12 years later we have the popular Paranormal Activity series and many other flicks coming and going so there’s no better time to have a look at the found footage box office top 10.
10. [Rec] 2 (2009) $18.5 million
Sequel to the original 2007 [Rec], this Spanish horror film did not live up to the high standards set by the original. Other than that, it made quite some money.
9. Apollo 18 (2011) $25.4 million
A movie released just little over 2 months ago, Apollo 18 tells the story of two American astronauts sent on a secret expedition to the Moon. The premise showed a lot of potential but like many of this films, it ultimately disappointed.
8. [Rec] (2007) $32.5 million
Let me just say that if this was a top 10 based on quality, [Rec] would no doubt rank first. While only 4 years old, this is already a cult classic and for fear of spoiling anything, I won’t tell you anything about the story. It also inspired a less than stellar US remake that found its way to 7th place.
7. Quarantine (2008) $41.3 million
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this made more money, quality wise it can’t hold a candle to [Rec]. Now if you haven’t seen the original, on its own, Quarantine isn’t half bad but I personally recommend you see [Rec], it’s much more deserving of your time.
6. The Last Exorcism (2010) $67.7 million
A forgettable PG-13 supernatural horror only good for some cheap scares.
5. Cloverfield (2008) $170.7 million
The J.J. Abrams monster feature first teased in front of Transformers in the summer of 2007 is, by found footage standards, a ten pound gorilla considering the $25 million budget. It was a very polarizing movie, liked by some, hated by others but in the end a very unique experience. I think Cloverfield is definitely worth your time.
4. Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) $172.4 million*
I put an asterisk there because this movie is still well into its box office run and by the time it leaves theaters, it should at least be in 2nd place. I haven’t seen this one so I won’t judge what I don’t know. But reviews and word of mouth seem to be good so you might want to check this one out too.
3. Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) $177.5 million
After the death of the Saw series, Paranormal Activity became the go-to Halloween franchise, one that seems like it’s not as close to the finish line as I thought it was a month ago. While not as appreciated or popular, Paranormal Activity 2 made more then enough money to warrant not just one sequel but probably ten.
2. Paranormal Activity (2009) $193.5 million
This is probably as close as we’ve ever got to a second Blair Witch Project. By now we know this series has become a worldwide phenomenon and is here for the long run, so there’s no point in arguing over anything else.
1. The Blair Witch Project (1999) $248.6 million
The movie that made found footage films popular and is still, 12 years later, the most popular of this sub-genre. So you might ask, if it was so popular, why not pull a Paranormal Activity on it? Well, they actually tried something with Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, an awful mess of a movie released in 2000. The thing is, because found footage was still a strange concept for a mainstream feature, they probably got scared and changed the style with the sequel, dropping the found footage look. A 3rd entry was planned for 2001 but since Book of Shadows performed so badly both with fans and at the box office, it was cancelled.
A look at what is to come is not easy with these movies since they have a tendency to come out of nowhere. What we do know is a 4th Paranormal Activity will be released by Halloween 2012 and then we have Chronicle, a found footage superhero flick scheduled to open February 3rd 2012. I’m personally very much looking forward to that. Until then don’t forget to film anything weird that happens to you, who knows, maybe one day it might turn into a movie.