The Distribution History of Paranormal

Since a lot of people have been asking questions about the studio intervention in Paranormal Activity, I thought I'd share some of the details with all of you. It had some trouble finding a distributor and passed through several different hands before ending up where it is today. Although it's not exactly the same version that was originally made by Peli, you don't need to feel cheated by Paramount's cut.

Oren Peli's film originally appeared at Screamfest in 2007. An agency agreed to help Peli find a distributor for the film and sent out screener DVD's to any studio representatives that would take them. I was able to watch one of those screener DVD's through a random connection. The agency kept pushing for the film and eventually Dream Works was poised to distribute. Spielberg himself had watched the film and was absolutely terrified by it. The studio wanted to remake the film with a larger budget and more recognizable actors, but would still allow Peli to direct. 

The director and his cast.

After small test screenings went remarkably well, they decided the original film was good enough for a theatrical run. Somewhere along the way, Paramount acquired Dream Works and the distribution was delayed. It was also somewhere during this time that the studio shot a couple extra scenes and removed a few others. All in all, it's basically the same film. I was surprised to see how little they had changed the movie. The small additions (maybe a couple minutes total) were handled with the same spirit as the original.

For a very interesting L.A. Times article and more details on the distribution of Paranormal Activity, go here.
For my review of Paranormal Activity, go here.
For a detailed look at the differences between Paramount's cut and the original, go here.


  1. The director looks like he has a demon in him...... it could be a true story.

  2. I'm confused, I thought the ending was completely different. Did Micah not get thrown across the room in the original version when she came back upstairs?

  3. Great report, Becky. Sickness has swept through our house and crashed our plans for getting out to see this. I've been avoiding your original post about the Paramount changes to keep from dulling any good scares.

    And that photo - Holy Hell. Looks like an image taken from istockphoto.com after searching for keywords like "uncomfortable stranger" and "third wheel."

  4. King Unicorn, Hope you are feeling better soon! Try to avoid spoilers, it will definitely be a better experience for you. Yeah, the most awkward photo ever.


    Planet of Terror, Micah does not get thrown. We just hear him die (it's the same sound we hear in the Paramount version) and Katie comes back upstairs with a knife in hand and blood on her shirt. We never see Micah again.

  5. Ah, gotcha. Thanks for clarifying. Still want to see the original.