Plenty of movies get made and shelved every year, but once in awhile a little gem of a film gets a big break. This year's unexpected success story belongs to Paranormal Activity. The horror film was actually made in 2007, on a budget of $15,000. It premiered at a few film festivals before hitting the theaters in September in limited release — but not for long.
In the spirit of The Blair Witch Project, the film shows fictional "forgotten footage" of a couple who are being haunted by paranormal forces. It was initially released in 13 different college towns across the country, but then the power of viral marketing set in. Director Orson Peli let America decide whether or not the movie should come to their home towns by letting them vote on Eventful.com. The plan worked, and each week the movie was shown on more and more screens across the nation.
To recap what happened, just read more.
As the movie rolled out and word spread like wildfire, ticket prices began to rise and eventually soar. After quietly breaking records, Paranormal Activity made it all the way to #1 in its first weekend in wide release. It went on to earn over 107 million worldwide in the weeks that followed, making the film arguably the most profitable film ever made.
The influence doesn't end there — the movie's stars, Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, landed on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and there's already a sequel rumored to be in the works. Plus, I have a feeling that the money-making will continue when the movie is released on DVD next week.
Don't forget to check out all of my Best of 2009 coverage!