Paramount's winning ways continued this weekend with the break-out performance of The Devil Inside. The ultra-low budget R-rated horror film opened with a terrific $33.73 million, which represented the third largest January opening weekend of all-time without adjusting for ticket price inflation (behind only 2008's Cloverfield and 1997's Star Wars: Special Edition). The Devil Inside opened 66 percent stronger than the $20.37 million start of 2010's The Last Exorcism and only 17 percent softer than the $40.68 million start of 2010's Paranormal Activity 2.
While traditional tracking had been soft for The Devil Inside, online noise was very strong in the weeks leading up to the film's release thanks in part to Paramount's experience of marketing the Paranormal Activity films. With that said, the massive level of online chatter for The Devil Inside has turned from being highly positive to highly negative after the release of the film. That is a very poor sign for the film's potential holding power (as is its opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.01 to 1), though in the bigger picture the film's likely massive declines going forward won't be a huge deal given the film's performance this weekend compared to its overall price tag.
Paramount had further good news with a stronger than expected hold by Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. The well-received action sequel starring Tom Cruise fell just 32 percent from last weekend to claim second with $19.87 million. Ghost Protocol continues to benefit from strong word of mouth and IMAX grosses and also seems to have benefited a bit this weekend from spill-over audiences from sold out showings of The Devil Inside on Friday and Saturday (as did other films). Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol has grossed a better than expected $169.57 million in 24 days and will have no problem zooming past the $200 million mark at this rate.
Also holding up a bit better than expected this weekend was Warner's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The sequel starring Robert Downey Jr. fell a solid 34 percent to take third place with $13.69 million. The 24-day total for A Game of Shadows stands at $157.05 million, which places it a respectable 13 percent behind the pace of 2009's Sherlock Holmes. After a much weaker than expected debut back in December, A Game of Shadows has rebounded nicely in the days since then and continues to close the percentage gap between it and the first installment of the franchise.
Continuing the trend of films holding up well this weekend was Sony's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The David Fincher directed remake was down just 23 percent from last weekend's performance to finish in fourth with $11.36 million. Much like A Game of Shadows, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has made up for a softer than expected start with stronger than expected holding power. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has grossed $76.90 million in 19 days and shouldn't have a problem reaching the $100 million domestic mark now.
In its first weekend of major release, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy grossed a very solid $5.48 million from 809 locations. That gave the awards season hopeful from Focus a per-location average of $6,772 for the weekend. After four weeks of additional platform release, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has grossed $10.13 million to date.