Saw VI: “I got a rock”
I’ve been getting a jump start on a few of the films playing AFI Fest which kicks off on Friday so I didn’t make it to any new releases this weekend. Stay tuned for some thoughts on Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the Cannes hits Fish Tank and Police, Adjective, Argentina’s submission for the Foreign Language Oscar The Secret in Their Eyes plus of course whatever else I manage to catch at the festival itself.
Meanwhile, there were a couple of interesting developments at the weekend box office. Despite being in nearly 1,100 fewer theaters, Paranormal Activity held its Friday edge and clobbered Saw VI, raking in an estimated $22 million vs. $14.8 million. The weekend pushes Paranormal over $62 million while netting Saw less than half of what each of the last four installments have debuted with. It’s a steep drop off for a franchise that has shown eroding audience interest over the last few years. Though its production budget estimated at $11 million is roughly a thousand times Paranormal Activity, it’s still very cheap by movie standards. Saw VI will make money and speculation about the franchise’s demise is premature.
Still, it has to be a little disconcerting to Lionsgate which has been able to use the Saw films to reliably print money over the years. This time however, they didn’t do anything to set the new film apart from the other five. There was no compelling reason to see it right away and it couldn’t stand up to competition from a highly buzzed Halloween alternative. Watch now as the other studios comb the landscape looking for another challenger for next Halloween while Lionsgate regroups and tries to figure out how to breathe new life into their moneymaker. UPDATE: It should come as no surprise to anyone that the bean counters are already salivating over a possible sequel to Paranormal Activity.
The other big story is Amelia. I’ll avoid making the easy headline jokes about the failure of $40 million film to find an audience. Suffice it to say they’re numerous. With a dismal $4 million from 818 theaters, it couldn’t even crack the top 10 for the weekend and a film that was once an intriguing Oscar prospect is now a footnote.
In other box office news, word got out that Where the Wild Things Are wasn’t really a family movie and it fell off nearly 56% from last weekend. It’s a shame that one of the better movies of the year will struggle to make its money back, but it’s doing better than last year’s Speed Racer, another expensive Warner Bros. film that looked like it was for families yet really wasn’t.
Also, Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist earned a solid though unspectacular average of $12,000 per theater in 6 locations. It’s a film likely to do the best in the largest markets so it’s probably all downhill from here. Hoping to capitalize on the controversy the film stirred up at assorted film festivals, IFC tried to turn it into something of a horror cult hit, but that strategy appears not to have panned out. Love it or hate it, the film never really had a chance to appeal to more than a niche audience so IFC should probably be pleased with how it did.
That’s enough talk about what other people saw this weekend. What about you?
Filed under: The Watercooler