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If It’s Halloween… It Might Not Be Saw Anymore!

Preliminary Box Office Numbers Are In“It’s it’s Halloween… It must be Saw!” is how Lionsgate has touted the latest sequels in the Saw franchise the past few years. They might need a new tagline when Saw VII in 3D comes out next year. This year, if it’s Halloween… It must be Paranormal Activity. And a concert film starring a freaky looking dead guy. Not to mention Law Abiding Citizen and Couples Retreat, both of which easily outgrossed Saw VI.

After last weekend’s disappointing opening, Saw VI dropped nearly a whopping 61% over the Halloween weekend box office, taking in a paltry estimated $5.56 million (per Box Office Mojo). The usually dependable horror franchise has yet to even surpass the miserable remake of The Stepfather in total box office. Could it be that audiences have finally tired of Jigsaw’s games? Could it be that even the most die-hard followers cannot stand the Costas Mandylor-ing of their franchise? Could it be that most Saw fans are actually strident Conservatives offended by the latest sequel’s pro-health care reform message? (Didn’t Glenn Beck warn us a few weeks back that in addition to setting up death panels, President Obama also wants to inject us with hydrochloric acid?)

Or could it be that Paranormal Activity has finally proven to be the Saw killer we all knew was going to come along sooner or later?

The under $15,000 indie fright flick has now officially dethroned The Blair Witch Project as the most profitable movie of all time with its second place weekend haul of over $16.5 million, putting it now close to $85 million at the box office. It remains to be seen how long past the Halloween season Paranormal Activity will continue to scare audiences on the big screen.

Zombieland broke the $70 million mark, and it’s pretty much a given that Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant will not be the start of a new franchise as it continues to tank, pulling in barely more money in its second week than Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs did in its seventh.

Meanwhile, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II was dumped back into 1,083 theaters this past weekend in a desperate attempt to pull in a few more dollars after floundering back in August. How well did this re-release go? H2 landed in 15th place with $475,000, or a per screen average of $439 compared to Paranormal Activity‘s $6,880 (which is higher than Michael Jackson’s This Is It at $6,119) and Saw VI‘s $1,831. This was really the weekend they should have opened Halloween II in the first place, but since the Weinsteins appear to have completely lost whatever mojo they once had… Toss this franchise out with the rotting jack-o-lanterns.

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  • Chainsaw

    I still can’t believe someone at Lionsgate keeps thinking a movie…much less 3 OF THEM… where the main star is Costas Mandylor would end up making them money hand over fist.

    This isn’t going to dissuade them. They’ll just spend less on the scripts and budget (not like there was a lot of quality there to begin with) and hope the 3D gimmick will reinvigorate it. Spoiler Alert: It won’t.

  • Deacon

    I’ve begun to think that all the positive comments and reviews of Paranormal Activity are just spam from folks with a vested interest in the film’s profits.
    Seriously, this film was a waste of time…a complete piece of shit.
    I am absolutely amazed that ANYONE actually enjoyed this mess!

  • Caterpillar

    Hollywood doesn’t learn any lessons that favor originality. PA’s success only means that the studios will try to copy that film’s approach in both storytelling and especially marketing. It certainly doesn’t mean that they will now embrace original films or support the visions of non-hack directors.

    • TheFritz

      I think what people like myself are eagerly hoping for is a repeat of 1992. In case you don’t remember, that was the year that launched independent film-makers like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez into instant stardom, simply because the studio system decided to give their films a shot. If we can get a repeat of that because of the success of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY we might get to see even more original films and if we’re really lucky, maybe less remakes to boot.

      The blatant rip-offs are unavoidable, but if even a couple of indy film-makers get to show their wares due to studios breaking their business models and trying something new (ie: Paramount and their DEMAND IT! campaign) then we all will benefit from it, as an audience.

  • Mephistopheles

    I seriously doubt that Saw’s going to be going anywhere unless it flatout bombs and fails to recoup it’s budget. It’s the closest thing LGF has to a guaranteed meal ticket, given it’s low budget. The fact that the next film is in 3D might get more people seeing it as well. Still, it’s a shame that VI has done so poorly. If it had been IV or V I would have been cheering but VI was pretty good.

    And while I’m glad that a low-budget no-franchise horror film has done so well, I just wish it had been a better film. Paranormal Activity was vastly overrated. I went in expecting to be terrified and I slept like a baby later that night. I’d been looking forward to it ever since DreadCentral’s first review, and when I finally saw it, I was like “That’s it?”

    • Uncle Creepy

      Sorry you didnt dig it man. You’re in the minority though. I’d say at least 80% of the people I talk to about it says it scared the shit out of them. I have found that people who go into it expecting it to scare them, or people who go in with the attitude that “nothing can scare” them each end up on the disappointed side of the fence. You just gotta take the ride.

      As for Saw, agreed. It ain’t going anywhere, but I do think that the success of PA and the disappointment of Saw “the sure thing”, will make the studios a bit more open to taking a chance on original movies now and not just remakes, sequels, or stuff based upon a graphic novel.

      Like PA or not … that’s a very good thing!

      • Mephistopheles

        You’re probably right. I guess my expectations were just too high going in. If I had just gone into it blind I would have probably enjoyed it more.

        I did like some of it, though–I thought Katie and Micah were both very good actors and I thought they had great chemistry. They were definitely the highlight of the film for me.

        And I really do hope PA opens the door for more original horror films. I’m a bit worried that we’ll just be seeing more “found footage” films trying to copy PA’s success, but if it leads to stuff like Trick R Treat or Repo! getting wide releases, that would be nothing short of fantastic.

        • PelusaMG

          I went in with some expectations – i.e. that it was going to be creepy/scary – but NEVER expected the thrill ride I got! It was the most terrifying film I have seen in a long, long time (if ever), and it took me on an emotional roller-coaster of a journey that has now defined my movie-going experience. I watched “Drag me to Hell” the other day, and although it was a very good film I was disappointed it did not ‘get to me’ the way PA did. I got home after watching PA completely freaked out, and spent an hour reading about the making of the film in order to settle my mind… and I add by the way that I am an atheist and have absolutely no belief in the after life nor the existence of ghosts, demons etc., yet I needed to ‘detox’ before I was happy to go to bed calmer, and at peace…

  • TheFritz

    It’s got less to do with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY being a good indy film, and more to do with beating a dead horse for five years straight. The SAW franchise could have done itself a world of good by simply taking one year off, instead of the annual force feeding Lionsgate has administered on the viewing public, specifically horror fans.

    Franchises and sequels are all good and fine, but most regular folk will give something original a shot over the sixth installment of a franchise, especially if they’ve not seen its predecessors. And it’s a proven fact that most non-horror fans go to see horror movies over Hallowe’en weekend because of the holiday.

    “It’s it’s Halloween… It must be Saw!” just shows Hollywood’s belief that it can strong-arm an audience into anything, while PARANORMAL ACTIVITY’s success simply proves them wrong. Now we just have to wait and see if tinsel-town will learn anything from this lesson, or just continue to pile more unoriginal crap onto the celluloid compost pile.