[FILM] James Wan's Saw III Opens On Top
- 'Saw III' cuts way to top at theaters
The horror film sequel captures $34.3 million at the box office in
its opening weekend.
By Josh Friedman, Times Staff Writer
"Saw III" sliced through the competition at the weekend box office,
solidifying Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s low-budget horror
series as one of the most cost-effective franchises in the movie
The picture, produced for less than $10 million, grossed $34.3
million in three days in the U.S. and Canada, according to studio
estimates Sunday. It outperformed last year's "Saw II" to become the
studio's biggest opener ever, and the industry's top R-rated opening
"While other horror franchises are declining, 'Saw' is continuing to
grow," said Steve Rothenberg, Lions Gate's president of
distribution. "The filmmakers and the marketing team have managed to
keep it fresh."
Two adult-oriented holdover films, "The Departed" and "The
Prestige," placed a distant second and third, respectively, for the
"Saw III" is the third Halloween weekend hit in three years for the
series, which has turned into a perpetual motion machine. Writing
teams are working on scripts for "Saw IV," with all eyes on 2007's
"Saw III" was directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who also helmed the
second film, from a story by franchise originators Leigh Whannell
and James Wan and screenplay by Whannell.
Starring Tobin Bell as the crafty villain Jigsaw and Shawnee Smith
as his new apprentice, "Saw III" was rated higher in audience exit
surveys than "Saw II," the studio said.
Horror films are known for short runs because fans tend to rush out
on opening weekends, but Lions Gate hopes word of mouth can
sustain "Saw III."
The first "Saw," which cost about $1.2 million to make, opened at
$18.3 million in the U.S. and Canada and ended up grossing $102.9
million worldwide. Right after its opening, Lions Gate
greenlighted "Saw II," a $4-million production that generated
worldwide ticket sales of $144.1 million a year later.
"Saw" is the most lucrative franchise at the independent studio,
which is preparing a third Tyler Perry comedy and second installment
of the "Hostel" horror series for early next year. Perry's "Diary of
a Mad Black Woman" and "Madea's Family Reunion" and the
original "Hostel" were big hits in recent years.
"Saw III" opened at 3,167 locations and averaged $10,830 per
theater the highest among wide releases. The audience was
estimated at 69% under age 25 and skewed slightly male.
Warner Bros.' "The Departed" again flexed its box-office muscle.
Director Martin Scorsese's critically acclaimed crime thriller added
$9.8 million, lifting its total after four weekends to $91.1 million.
Walt Disney Co.'s "The Prestige," last weekend's box-office leader,
hung tough in its second weekend, declining 35%. The movie grossed
an estimated $9.6 million.
The small drop-off bodes well for director Christopher Nolan's twist-
filled magician thriller starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman,
which cost about $40 million to produce and has now grossed $28.8
million in the U.S. and Canada.
Paramount Pictures' "Flags of Our Fathers," the $90-million World
War II saga directed by Clint Eastwood that opened last weekend to
less-than-expected results, finished fourth, adding $6.4 million and
lifting its total to $19.9 million.
That was a modest drop of 38%, although the patriotic drama added
theaters. On a per-theater basis, it averaged an estimated $2,900,
compared with $4,220 for "The Prestige."
Among other new releases, the apartheid-era South African
drama "Catch a Fire" failed to catch fire for NBC Universal's Focus
Features. It opened at No. 12 with an estimated $2 million from
Paramount Vantage's "Babel" opened to robust business in limited
release, averaging $52,257 at seven theaters in New York and Los
Angeles. The drama starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett widens next
week to 13 markets and on Nov. 10 to 1,200 theaters.
Miramax's "The Queen," starring Helen Mirren, continued to pack
theaters in limited release. It averaged $12,638 at 152 theaters,
lifting its total to $6.3 million after five weekends.
But Fox Searchlight's "The Last King of Scotland," starring Forest
Whitaker as the late Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, has started more
slowly despite awards talk for its headliner. It averaged $3,520 at
95 theaters, bringing its total after five weekends to $2.4 million.
Disney's 3-D version of Tim Burton's 13-year-old animated
musical "The Nightmare Before Christmas" grossed $1.8 million,
averaging $10,815 at 168 theaters. Through 10 days, the re-release
has generated $5.9 million.
Industrywide, ticket sales were higher than a year ago for the fifth
straight weekend. Box-office revenue is up 6.7% year-to-date,
according to Exhibitor Relations Co.
Next weekend could feature a clash of two family films as
Disney's "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" and DreamWorks
Animation and distributor Paramount's "Flushed Away" both open.
Twentieth Century Fox's much-hyped mock documentary "Borat" opens in
semi-wide release at 800 theaters.
Begin text of infobox
Preliminary results (in millions) in the U.S. and Canada, based on
Movie 3-daygross Total
Saw III $34.3 $34.3
The Departed 9.8 91.1
The Prestige 9.6 28.8
Flags of Our Fathers 6.4 19.9
Open Season 6.1 77.4
Flicka 5.0 14.1
Man of the Year 4.7 28.9
The Grudge 2 3.3 36.0
Marie Antoinette 2.9 9.8
Running With Scissors 2.6 2.9
3-day gross Change
(in millions) from 2005
Year-to-date gross Change
(in billions) from 2005
Source: Exhibitor Relations Co.
Los Angeles Times