Paranormal Activity 2 won the first battle of the half-term box office grossing $6m (£3.8m) from 389 screens for a week-high screen average of $15,340 (£9,678).

Paranormal Activity 2

Paramount’s horror sequel took $221,914 (£140,000) more than Oren Peli’s 2009 original, and fought off a good holdover performance from Universal’s Despicable Me, which made $4.1m (£2.6m) from 549 screens at a $7,477 (£4,716) screen average. The animated comedy has now taken a top-ten high of $12m (£7.6m), and saw its week-on-week take diminish by only 29%.

Half-term’s arrival heralded a sea-change at the box office with five of the top eight and 11 of the top 30 films on debut. eOne’s all star action-adventure Red opened in third spot, taking $2.7m (£1.7m) from 402 screens for a per print average of $6,557 (£4,136), while Warner’s animation Legend Of The Guardians debuted in fifth position, taking $1.2m (£737,444) from 472 screens.

Lionsgate’s opener Alpha and Omega was the third animated feature in the top six, grossing $1m (£643,425) from 391 screens, and Sony’s romance-comedy Easy A came in eighth, taking $440,587 (£277,975) from 203 screens. 

With Made In Dagenham slipping to 12th, Warner’s 11th-placed UK adventure-comedy Africa United is the highest non-US feature. Debs Gardner-Paterson’s feature debut opened on $440,587 (£177,827) from 227 screens.

There were further top 20 openings for Fox’s family-comedy  Ramona & Beezus, which debuted in 14th, taking $133,900 (£84,475), and D15’s romance Jhootha Hi Sahi, which came in at 20.

Universal’s 18th-placed The Death And Life Of Charlie St Cloud continued to fall away in its third week, posting the top 20’s worst percentage change of -84%.

The $21.2m (£13.4m) total box office taken over the 22-24 weekend was the biggest since the £16m grossed over the August 20-22 weekend. It was also the first time since the same August weekend that the top four performers have grossed more than $2.4m (£1.5m) each.

After last week’s flurry of activity this week sees a more modest number of openings, with saturation releases for Entertainment’s Burke And Hare and the seventh instalment in Lionsgate’s indomitable Saw franchise. Universal’s festival favourite The Kids Are All Right and Artificial Eye’s Golden Bear-nominated The Hunter also hit cinemas.

Every film in the Saw franchise has opened in the top five at the UK box office since the first instalment opened in October 2004. Despite a Halloween opening, with strong competition and the possibility of Saw fatigue, could this be the film to finally break the trend.