LOS ANGELES — “Where the Wild Things Are” proved a bigger hit with adult audiences than family crowds as the adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book debuted at No. 1 with $32.5 million.
Moviegoers 18 and older accounted for 43 percent of the audience, while parents with children made up 27 percent, according to distributor Warner Bros.
Overture Films earned the No. 2 spot with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler’s vengeance thriller “Law Abiding Citizen,” which debuted with $21.3 million.
Expanding into wider release, Paramount’s low-budget horror sensation “Paranormal Activity” moved up to No. 3 with $20.2 million.
Shot for a reported $15,000, “Paranormal Activity” outdid the premiere of Sony’s fright flick “The Stepfather,” which cost $19 million and played in nearly four times as many theaters but managed just a No. 5 opening with $12.3 million.
The results for “Where the Wild Things Are” matched the intent of director Spike Jonze, who viewed his take as a story about a child, but not necessarily a children’s movie.
Jonze’s adaptation features newcomer Max Records as Sendak’s misbehaving young protagonist, a boy who journeys to a make-believe island of monsters torn between hugging him and eating him. The live-action and voice cast includes Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini and Forest Whitaker.
A cheap acquisition at the Slamdance Film Festival, “Paranormal Activity” came out of nowhere, riding online fan buzz to a domestic total of $33.7 million so far. The movie expanded to 760 theaters, up 600 from the previous weekend, and has plenty of room to grow.
Paramount plans to expand the movie to between 1,800 and 2,000 theaters next weekend, then widen its release even farther for Halloween. It will go head-to-head with an established horror franchise as Lionsgate opens “Saw VI” on Friday.
Shot in a raw documentary style, “Paranormal Activity” is a twist on the haunted house story as a couple tries to capture on camera the strange phenomena and apparitions afflicting them.