Paranormal Activity 2With Halloween near, moviegoers were in the mood for a weekend fright-night, sending haunted-house sequel “Paranormal Activity 2,” to the top of the box office with a $63.5 million gross worldwide.

The Paramount Pictures film opened at No. 1 in North America with a $41.5 million, three-day weekend total, with another $22 million coming from 21 foreign markets, led by Great Britain, Russia and Australia, the film studio said.

The movie is already a smash, since it cost about $3 million to make. The initial 2009 movie cost about $15,000, and ended up with $107 million in North America, almost exclusively on the strength of word-of-mouth advertising.

Not surprisingly, industry insiders were low balling the sequel, with estimates ranging from $20 million to $30 million by Don Harris, Paramount’s executive VP for distribution.

Estimated weekend ticket sales in the United States and Canada; Source:

1. “Paranormal Activity 2,” $41.5 million.

2. “Jackass 3D,” $21.6 million.

3. “Red,” $15 million.

4. “Hereafter,” $12 million.

5. “The Social Network,” $7.3 million.

6. “Secretariat,” $6.9 million.

7. “Life as We Know It,” $6.2 million.

8. “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole,” $3.2 million.

9. “The Town,” $2.7 million.

10. “Easy A,” $1.8 million.

Paramount’s “Jackass 3D” held the No. 2 spot with $21.6 million.

After two weeks, the film has grossed $87.1 million, exceeding the lifetime totals of its two predecessors, as moviegoers sought out escapism in the down economy.

“Hereafter,” Clint Eastwood’s film with Matt Damon, debuted at No. 4 with $12 million. The move cost $50 million to make.

Summit Entertainment’s action comedy “Red” came in third with $15 million, boosting its 10-day total to $43.5 million.