Horror returned to the top of the North American charts over the weekend as the prevailing genre franchise stormed to the top through Paramount. Overall box office for the top 12 releases climbed approximately 12% against the same period last year when Paranormal Activity 3 opened top on $52.6m.

While the launch was markedly lower than its predecessor exactly one year ago — and for the record Paranormal Activity 2 opened on $40.7m exactly two years ago — studio executives will be happy with the number one finish.

Furthermore Paramount’s publicity corps will be quick to point out that the latest iteration also dominated the international box office charts through an estimated $26.5m launch, resulting in a solid $56.7m global opening weekend.

Hot Oscar contender Argo held firm at number two through Warner Bros to reach $43.2m after two weekends while Sony’s Hotel Transylvania ranked third and has amassed $119m after four weekends.

EuropaCorp/Fox’s thriller Taken 2 struck another blow for the independent sector – which has been in rude health in recent weeks at the US box office – as it crossed $100m in its third weekend to stand at $105.9m.

Another independent production, the serial killer thriller Alex Cross starring Tyler Perry in a departure for the family film entrepreneur, opened in fifth place through Summit Entertainment on a modest $11.8m.

Looper ranks tenth through FilmDistrict/TriStar on $57.8m after four weekends in release.

Seven Psychopaths fell out of the top ten in its second weekend and ranks eleventh through CBS Films on a disappointing $9.2m.

Fox Searchlight launched The Sessions starring awards hopefuls John Hawkes and Helen Hunt on $121,000 from four venues for a healthy $30,250 per-site average that stands the campaign in good stead. Searchlight acquired worldwide rights at Sundance for a reported $6m deal.

Leos Carax’s surreal adventure Holy Motors opened though Indomina Media on $19,500 from two venues and children chess team documentary Brooklyn Castle, a released through Producers Distribution Agency, opened on $22,100 from two.

Next weekend’s wide releases are Cloud Atlas through Warner Bros; Open Road Films’ Silent Hill: Revelation 3D; Paramount’s comedy Fun Size and surfing tale Chasing Mavericks through Fox.

Estimated Top 10 North America Oct 19-21 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Paranormal Activity 4 (Paramount) PPI $30.2m –
2 (2) Argo (Warner Bros) WBPI $16.6m $43.2m
3 (4) Hotel Transylvania (Sony) SPRI $13.5m $119m
4 (1) Taken 2 (Fox/EuropaCorp) Fox Int’l / EuropaCorp $13.4m $105.9m
5 (-) Alex Cross (Summit) QED Int’l $11.8m –
6 (3) Sinister (Summit Entertainment) IM Global $9m $31.9m
7 (5) Here Comes The Boom (Sony) SPRI $8.5m $23.2m
8 (6) Pitch Perfect (Universal) UPI $7m $45.8m
9 (7) Frankenweenie (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $4.4m $28.3m
10 (8) Looper (TriStar) FilmNation $4.2m $57.8m