In its fourth week on release, Ridley Scott’s The Martian topped the US box office again with an estimated $15,9 million weekend. 

The highest new entry was The Last Witch Hunter, Vin Diesel’s latest attempt to forge a hit outside of the Fast and Furious came in fourth place with $10.8 million. We will have to see how the movie performs over the coming weeks before writing off that planned sequel. 

The final entry in the Paranormal Activity franchise set a new low for the once buoyant series, the addition of 3D did little to help and The Ghost Dimension could only muster $8.2 million. In its prime, the Paranormal Activity franchise commanded a $52 million opening for part three, even the spin-off (The Marked Ones) took $18 million. 

While the laws of diminishing returns for sequels is applicable here, Paramount made the bizarre decision to try a bold new strategy for The Ghost Dimension by bringing its VOD forward by several weeks. Paramount’s experiment forced many leading cinema chains in the US to boycott the movie, in the end more than 1400 screens were lost as a result. 

In a roundabout way the VOD move does make some sense, the bulk of the profits for movies like Paranormal Activity will be made after its theatrical release. However, if a movie is available to own mere weeks after it arrives in cinemas, where is the incentive to buy tickets and popcorn? 

Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum has another movie out this weekend, and boy did it flop. Jem and the Holograms from Step Up 3D director Jon Chu didn’t trouble the top ten and made a lowly $1.3 million. The saving grace of Blum’s micro-budgeted projects is that when one or two don’t to as well as expected, it won’t bankrupt a studio.