Saw Surprises Box Office - Monday Update

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for October 29-31, 2004

By John Hamann

October 31, 2004

In your face, Jim Carrey!

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Monday Update

Actuals for the Halloween weekend are now in, and actuals were somewhat close to estimates, save for a few situations.

The Grudge held its number one ranking, but missed its estimate grossing $21.8 million, instead of the overzealous $22.4 million estimated by Sony yesterday. Ray remained close to its estimate, coming in at an even $20 million versus the $20.1 million reported yesterday. The revenue The Grudge lost on Sunday seems to have moved over to Sundance pickup Saw. Saw was estimated at $17.4 million yesterday, but has increased that gross to $18.3 million. When your film cost $1.3 million to make, that's a big difference.

Other missed estimates came from DreamWorks, as Shark Tale missed by 500K moving from $8 million to $7.5 million, and the news for Surviving Christmas only got worse as its estimate of $2.6 million went down to $2.4 million.

The column below has not been updated, but the chart at the bottom of the page is updated to reflect actual box office numbers.

Happy Halloween, everybody! Hell Night 2004 is upon us, and the box office weekend leading up to the big day is filled with horror. Saw, the new scarefest from Lions Gate debuted this weekend, as well as the new biopic Ray from Universal. Hovering over all of this is the second weekend for Sony’s surprise hit, The Grudge. Would newcomer Saw be able to replicate the opening weekend success of The Grudge? Would Ray drown both out over Halloween weekend? BOP has all the box office answers.

The number one film of the weekend is The Grudge, last week’s big winner at the box office. All eyes were on how the Sony remake would perform this Halloween weekend, after a $39 million start over its first three days last weekend. The Grudge held solidly for a horror film, grossing an estimated $22.4 million this weekend from 3,348 venues – 103 venues more than last weekend. The Grudge dropped 43% and had a venue average of $6,690. This is a solid performance for the Sarah Michelle Gellar film, as remakes tend to dive in their second weekend. For example, Dawn of the Dead dropped 60% in its second frame and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fell 49%. The Grudge now has a total of $71.3 million and will see $100 million by the end of its run, a feat that Dawn or the Chainsaw Massacre can’t claim. The Grudge’s internal multiplier was 2.9, which tells me The Grudge is estimated to have a decent Halloween night at the box office. Check back to this column tomorrow afternoon, and we will let you know how estimates held up.

The runner-up for the weekend is Universal’s Ray, the new biopic about Ray Charles starring Jamie Foxx. Ray scored big this weekend, as he did in life, and the film about the blind singer pulled in $20.1 million from only 2,006 venues to take the number two spot at the box office this weekend. The Taylor Hackford film had a hotshot venue average of $10,024, easily the highest in the top ten. For star Jamie Foxx, Ray caps off almost a perfect 2004 for the actor. He co-starred with Tom Cruise in the serious summer film Collateral about a hitman and his cabbie; that film grossed over $100 million domestically for DreamWorks and so far has grossed over $173 million worldwide. In May, Foxx toplined Breakin’ All The Rules, an urban comedy from Screen Gems. That film may have not made headlines with its $12.2 million domestic gross, but the total did exceed the production budget, which came in at $10 million. Next up for Foxx could be The Oscars, but his next film project is Stealth, a $130 million action film from Sony, which currently has a July 2005 release date. Ray was produced for $35 million by, amongst others, Crusader Entertainment, which is owned by Phillip Anschutz of Walden Media fame. Walden was behind the summer 2004 Disney disaster Around the World in 80 Days, so profits from Ray may help balance out that debacle. Next up for Crusader is Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder, which is currently set for March 2005, with an $80 million budget.

Did Halloween on Sunday affect Ray’s box office performance? Ray grossed $6.8 million on Friday, so with a $20.1 million total gross, we know that Ray had an internal multiplier of 2.95. The internal multiplier (Friday gross divided by weekend gross) tells us that audiences stayed away on Sunday night, but actuals tomorrow will be more telling than this estimate. The jump from Friday-to-Saturday was decent in terms of box office for Ray, moving from $6.8 million on opening day, to $8.6 million on Saturday; however, the estimated downturn on Sunday kept The Grudge on top. It doesn’t matter - Universal has a big hit with the Ray, as this film could play for quite awhile due to the award-worthy performance from Jamie Foxx. Check back next weekend to see how this one holds up against a huge box office player in The Incredibles.

Third this weekend, but not at all out of the race, is our other new entry in Lions Gate’s horror pickup Saw. The low-budget Sundance midnight movie was picked to finish well back of The Grudge and Ray, but for the second weekend in a row, horror surprised in a very big way. Saw grossed an absolutely amazing $17.4 million for its distributor and production company this weekend, pulling legions of folks who like their horror grisly. Lions Gate thought they should play it safe, releasing the film to only 2,315 venues; it could have been much wider, as the horror flick ended up pulling a strong venue average of $7,516. Shot in 18 days, Saw cost producers Evolution Entertainment a miniscule $1.3 million to make; they brought on Lions Gate to do prints and advertising. This is going to be a financial windfall for Evolution, as even negative reviews (“hits the grisly button without shame” – Rolling Stone) are drawing audiences. The Lions Gate marketing campaign has been smart and effective, and shows in the gross as this one really has no above-the-title type stars. The people at Evolution played this one very well – the principals used their own money to finance the film, and with this opening weekend gross, will be able to finance many more low budget horror movies. Like a typical horror movie, Saw wasn’t strong all weekend, as the film opened on Friday with a $6.9 million gross, and then dipped a little on Saturday to $6.4 million. Its internal multiplier came in at 2.5.

Shark Tale comes in fourth, as the CGI animated film has this last weekend to swim before The Incredibles flood the market. Shark Tale grossed $8 million in its fifth weekend, down 44% from the previous frame. The DreamWorks flick has grossed an impressive $147.4 million, making it the seventh highest grossing film of the year so far. In comparison, Fox’s Ice Age grossed $8.6 million in its fifth weekend, and dropped 37%. Its total of $151.6 million was very similar to Shark Tale after five weekends, meaning that the fish story shouldn’t finish far from Ice Age’s $176.4 million domestic gross. Meanwhile, the DreamWorks IPO got off to a great start this week, with the stock already $10 above IPO price. It looks like they will have a big hit in the May 2005 release Madagascar, if the trailer is any indication.

Fifth this weekend is Shall We Dance?, the mostly forgotten Richard Gere/Jennifer Lopez movie. Shall We Dance? grossed $6.3 million this weekend and dropped a soft 27%. Miramax added 50 venues to the film’s run this weekend, bringing it up to 2,476; the romantic comedy had a venue average of $2,538. The film has now grossed $33.9 million against a production budget of $50 million.

Friday Night Lights finishes sixth this weekend, as it spends its fourth weekend in the top ten. FNL grossed $4.1 million this weekend, versus a lot of other football and Halloween. The sports movie dropped 41% and now has a combined total of $53 million versus its $30 million production budget. This is not a bad total at all for Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures; however, we must remember that foreign sales will probably be extremely subdued for this one.

Seventh is top ten stalwart Ladder 49, which is also enjoying its fifth weekend as a top ten film. Ladder 49 grossed $3.3 million this weekend, down 38%. The fire-fighting film has grossed $66.2 million.

Eighth spot goes to Team America: World Police, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s attempt at raucous political comedy. Team America never worked with North American audiences, as it grossed only $3.1 million in its third weekend, dropping a large 52%. The production budget was $30 million, and its total so far has reached $27.3 million.

The disaster that is Surviving Christmas found itself in ninth. Talk about crash and burn; the Ben Affleck feature took in only $2.6 million this weekend, down 42% from its debut frame. This has become The Nightmare Before Christmas for DreamWorks, as the comedy looks like it's going to have to fight its way up to a $12 million dollar domestic gross, as its current total sits at $8.1 million. If one approximates a $50 million dollar budget, this is a huge turkey for the studio.

Tenth this weekend is Taxi. The film that will not die grossed $2.2 million, bringing its gross up to $32.7 million.

Nicole Kidman’s new film, Birth, failed to make much of an impact on the box office this weekend. New Line chose to release the dark romance about a woman falling for her dead husband (who is in the body of a little boy) to only 550 venues this weekend, with little marketing push. The film finished 11th, and grossed $1.7 million, finding a venue average of $3,090.

Box office this weekend was slightly higher than totals that came in at this time last year. Last year, Halloween was on a Friday, which hurt box office. Top ten totals for the weekend in 2003 were about $86.5 million. Because of the stunning success of Saw this weekend, the box office found a similar $89.5 million, which should put a smile on distributor’s faces.

Top Ten for Weekend of October 29-31, 2004
of Sites
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 The Grudge 3,348 -44% $21.8 $70.7
2 Ray 2,006 New $20.0 $20.0
3 Saw 2,315 New $18.3 $18.3
4 Shark Tale 3,381 -48% $7.5 $146.9
5 Shall We Dance? 2,476 -27% $6.3 $33.9
6 Friday Night Lights 3,004 -41% $4.1 $52.9
7 Ladder 49 2,382 -38% $3.3 $66.1
8 Team America: World Police 2,335 -52% $3.1 $27.2
9 Surviving Christmas 2,755 -45% $2.4 $8.0
10 Taxi 1,884 -49% $2.1 $32.7



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