A Halloween tradition potentially comes to an end this year with the sole new release for the weekend, as the month of gimmickry also comes to a close.
Weekend Forecast for October 29-31, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
October 28, 2010
For the last few years, the Saw franchise has been a license to print money. As the film that launched the gorno craze, it became the go-to franchise for horror around Christmas, showing a remarkable consistency with opening weekends bang on in the low $30 millions. Then Paranormal Activity happened. Although there'd been a bit of weakness in the final box office totals, it was hard to predict that home movie footage would trump elaborate death machines at the box office, but it did, chopping a franchise from its height of $87 million domestic down to $27 million.
The response from the Saw producers is essentially to throw in the towel, with one last film (likely for contractual reasons) in 3D and then to call it a series. Rarely has the cry of uncle been so readily apparent. Of course, we've heard “Final” from horror franchises before (Friday the 13th was supposed to end at the fourth one, remember), so expect them to find a way to revive this at some point down the road if this does even moderately well.
That's neither here or there for this release, which continues on the apparent arc of the series (I stopped paying attention once Westley chopped off his foot) where people are put into life or death moral decisions with the threat of elaborate death dealing mechanisms (which never, ever malfunction, apparently), lather, rinse, repeat.
Part of the reason for the success of this franchise seems to be simply because it's staked its claim to the holiday. With that spell broken and Paranormal Activity showing sustained strength, there's pretty much no chance of it getting back to that initial point. The addition of 3D should provide a nice one-time boost to it, but anyone expecting a Jackass-like bump is due for disappointment. Horror films have come and gone with 3D, like My Bloody Valentine and Piranha, with little fanfare. Jackass is almost certainly a special case. The near-disaster of last time, with its $14 million opening, shouldn't happen again, but we're probably only looking at a small improvement to around $20 million.
That puts it in a direct dogfight with Paranormal Activity 2 for the weekend crown, which started with $40 million last weekend. While no one's expecting Avatar-like legs, the first film's unusual release pattern led it to be surprisingly leggy, and this edition has received decent reviews. Is that going to be enough to keep it from dropping like a stone? Maybe, but we're talking in relative terms here. Expect this to come down to the wire with Saw 3D at $20 million.
To no one's surprise, Jackass 3D did lose a huge portion of its opening weekend, dropping close to 60%. After a $50 million opening, though, it's already well over the total for either of the previous two Jackass movies, with $125 million in range as a reasonable target gross. Losing a lot of its 3D screens to Saw could hurt, though that's really just noise in the signal at this level of drop off. It might mean just $1 or $2 million less this weekend, with a total of about $9 million.
Perhaps a surprise candidate for legs, Red dropped just 30% in its second weekend to $15 million. It's about to start losing large amounts of screens to November blockbusters, so this can't continue forever, but it's probably made a $65 million movie into a $90 million one. It's maybe a bit strange to count this as such a win for Bruce Willis, but it's a large step up from some of his recent non-franchise films. Give it about $9 million this weekend as well.
Clint Eastwood's Hereafter expanded to 2,000 venues and a $12 million weekend, a performance that inspires neither excitement nor despair, apparently just like the movie. I don't see any groundswell of support forming behind this movie, so I think we're going to end up filing it along with Changeling and Invictus as late-period Eastwood movies that are only sort of remembered. Look for around $7 million here.
A trio of leggy films round out the significant holdovers – The Social Network, Secretariat and Life As We Know It. Each serving very different demographics, these three films should come in with between $4 and 5 million. It's a story of two very different situations among the films, as The Social Network looks headed for multiple Oscars and $100 million-plus, while the other two are more on-track for $60 million and next to no year-end notority.