Jigsaw Leads the Lowest as Box Office Bottoms Out
By John Hamann
October 29, 2017
This weekend hurts, and it’s got nothing to do with the return of the Saw franchise.
Everyone knows the movie business is going through a bit of a rough patch. Numbers have been down terribly compared to last year, but in my opinion, this weekend really hammers that idea home. The top 12 films this weekend earned only $60.2 million, and that number joins the worst of the worst over the last decade. Forgetting the always terrible late August and Labor Day weekends, this year’s top 12 finishes behind the October 30, 2016 weekend, which had a top 12 of $62.7 million, and the April 27, 2007 weekend which did $62.1 million. One has to go all the way back to September 8, 2006 for a lower score, when the top 12 earned $54 million thanks to a poor opening weekend from Screen Gems’ horror film The Covenant, which led the box office with only $8.9 million.
This weekend is similar, as Jigsaw returns to lead the Saw franchise to the box office, and Paramount and Universal try not to flail with Thank You For Your Service and Suburbicon, two films that opened on more than 2,000 screens, but fail to make the top five. Could there possibly be good news? No, but this is the end of the drought, as Thor: Ragnarok is going to blow the dust bunnies out of theaters next weekend – there is no doubt about it.
The franchise that made Lionsgate is back this weekend, as this is the series that pumped out seven Saw films over six years at a cost of only $70 million, with a domestic return of $415 million and an overseas gross that at least rivaled that number. The Saw films were Halloween weekend mainstays, with big opening days driven by a crazed fanbase. The last film in the series, Saw 3D, opened to $22 million thanks to its fanbase, but it could barely double that opening weekend, finishing with only $44 million. It proved to be the end of the franchise – at least for seven years, until this weekend when Jigsaw arrived, again courtesy of Lionsgate. Opening day showed audiences remembered the Saw villain well, as Thursday previews returned a better than expected $1.7 million, but that would be the last point in the weekend where expectations were met.
The combined Thursday preview/Friday gross came in at $7.1 million, this time lower than expected, as horror films - especially the Saw film - are front-loaded, so we knew already that Jigsaw was not going to hit $20 million for the weekend. If the film could achieve a 2.6 internal weekend multiplier, it would earn $18.5 million, and still be in the vicinity of the tracking estimates. Those estimates were loose, calling for a opening in the high teen millions to low $20 million. The Saturday number came in at $5.7 million, falling 21% compared to the opening day amount.
Unfortunately for Lionsgate, Jigsaw was performing very similarly to Saw VI, which was the lowest opening film of the series, debuting with $14.1 million. That film’s Friday came in at $6.95 million, and Saturday at $4.7 million, giving Jigsaw a slight $1.2 million lead over the weakest Saw entry by the end of the two biggest days of the weekend. Saw VI fell a massive 48% on Sunday, earning $2.45 million, whereas Jigsaw was estimated at $3.4 million, off 40%. That puts the weekend estimate for Jigsaw at $16.3 million, making it the second lowest opener in franchise history, ahead of Saw VI’s $14.1 million and behind the $18.3 million earned by the original Saw in 2004.