Lionsgate torture-porn franchise isn't what it used to be, but 3D installment meets tracking and has just enough gory sadistic thrills left to take down fast-dropping “Paranormal Activity 2”
Cut to pieces at the domestic box office last October by Paramount's viral phenomenon "Paranormal Activity," Lionsgate torture-porn franchise "Saw" rebounded well this weekend, with the seventh and supposedly final "Saw 3D" leading the North American market with $24.2 million, according to studio estimates.
Playing in 3D on more than 2,700 domestic screens, the $20 million horror movie — twice as expensive as its predecessors since it was shot in 3D — outpaced prequel "Paranormal Activity 2," which dropped nearly 60 percent in its second week to $16.5 million.
Oren Peli's $3 million follow-up to his homemade 2009 viral-marketing sensation, however, has grossed an estimated $65.7 million at the domestic box office.
On a dull Halloween weekend at the box office in which no other movie besides a seventh-part sequel was released wide, the market was up 6 percent over last year, and no other film besides "Saw 3D" came close to grossing $20 million.
Here's how the top 10 finished. Full report continues below chart:
From 2005-2008, the first four sequels to the original 2004 "Saw" each opened to more than $30 million.
However, last year, with "Paranormal Activity" reaching the $21.1 million apex of its platform expansion, "Saw VI" was routed, grossing just $14.1 million.
"Saw 3D's" performance — while not up to the earlier standards of the franchise — at least meant its tracking estimates and closed the series on a profitable note.
"If you would have told me last year, after what happened, that we were going to make 'Saw 7' in 3D, and it was going to open to $24.2 million, I would have said 'sold,'" said Lionsgate executive VP of distribution David Spitz. "We are ecstatic about this performance. It's a great way to end the franchise … The bottom line is we're going to make a lot of money on this movie."
Really? It's over for sure?
"This is definitely the final installment of the series," he added.
The seventh "Saw" scored a 9 percent fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes and a B-minus score from movie customer-satisfaction grader Cinemascore (notable, Lionsgate officials say, because the first "Saw" scored only a "C").
Only one other movie besides "Saw 3D" and "Paranormal 2" grossed at least $10 million at the domestic box office this weekend, with Summit's grown-up-targeted, ensemble-casted action-comedy "Red" declining only about 27 percent in its third weekend with $10.8 million.
The $58 million movie has grossed $58.9 million to date, with most of Summit's negative exposure covered through foreign sales.
In fourth place, Paramount's "Jackass 3D" crossed the $100 million threshold in its third weekend, dropping about 60 percent to $8.4 million. It's domestic total stands at $101.6 million.
In fifth place, Warner's Clint Eastwood-directed "Hereafter" continues to sputter along, declining about 46 percent to $6.3 million in its third weekend. The $50 million, spiritually-themed film about the afterlife, which stars Matt Damon, has grossed only $22.2 million so far.
In sixth place, Disney's "Secretariat" declined only around 30 percent in its fourth weekend, bringing $5.1 million and upping its cumulative total to $44.8 million on a negative cost of $38 million.
Among platformed releases, Fox Searchlight's Hilary Swank movie "Conviction" cracked the top 10, expanding to 565 theaters and grossing $1.8 million. The $12.5 million film has grossed $2.4 million to date.