Weekend Wrap-Up

Paranormal Active, Saw Lacks Teeth

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

October 25, 2009

They're laughing at you, Jigsaw. You must be spinning in your grave.

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The latest film in the series, the Saw movie that came AFTER what was billed to be the final one, earned only $14.8 million this weekend. Yes, Saw VI has effectively earned back its production budget after only three days. In terms of financial success, this still qualifies. In terms of performance relative to its peers, however, Saw VI is no Saw V or Saw IV or...you get the idea. After four straight $30 million opening weekends, Lionsgate finds itself facing the worst performance for the franchise to date. Even the original managed 24% more than this. It is as if the entirety of North America suddenly woke up this week and said, "Haven't we seen this film a few times already?" In reality, what happened is that Paranormal Activity presented direct demographic competition for the Saw franchise. No longer was it the biggest game in town. After years of shoving the same premise down the throats of consumers, people finally demonstrated some learning curve. It only took us five years to figure this out.

Other than its profitability, there isn't a lot of good news for Saw VI. It was soundly beaten by Paranormal Activity, it had the worst performance of the franchise to date, and Saturday's ticket sales saw a steep decline from Friday. The film appears to be heavily frontloaded, even for a franchise whose final box office multipliers (final box office divided by opening weekend box office) have averaged a paltry 2.35 over the years. If it doesn't sustain whatever momentum it has over the Halloween period, Saw VI will become the first film in the franchise to earn less than $50 million domestically. Whether this is simply a misstep for the franchise or the end of the line remains to be seen, but the already announced Saw VII is suddenly a much dicier proposition for the studio.


Now that the scary movies are out of the way, we come to third place, as Where the Wild Things Are struggles to hold on to its audience. Its solid debut weekend of $32.7 million proved to be at least partially driven by Spike Jonze fanboys, as the Warner Bros. artsy kid flick was down 56% from last weekend, a tough number considering the genre and the IMAX dollars it should be receiving. In its second frame, Wild Things earned $14.4 million, bringing its cumulative total to $54 million. Although it seemed last week as if $100 million was a distinct possibility, that no longer appears to be in the film's future. Since the reported budget is $100 million, this means that Wild Things will have to rely on overseas receipts and home video to be a profitable venture. We can also expect Jonze to return to smaller scale projects where he can exercise his extreme creativity without it impacting a major studio release.

Fourth place goes to Law Abiding Citizen, the revenge flick that did better in its opening weekend than it had any right to. The Gerard Butler/Jamie Foxx film dropped 40% as it had a second weekend total of $12.7 million. Considering the genre and direct demographic competition from stuff like Paranormal Activity and Saw VI, this has to be considered a pretty solid result. With a total so far of $40.3 million, this is Overture Films' most successful production to date, and it should turn a little profit by the time it's all said and done.

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