Monday Morning Quarterback Lite
By Joel Corcoran
October 30, 2006
Editor's Note: The weekend box office seemed rather uninspired and flat, with only one meaningful opener that performed as expected. We initially decided not to have our usual MMQB roundtable this week. However, Joel Corcoran - BOP staffer, proud Oregon State University alum, and a man who once wore the Benny Beaver mascot suit - threw a fit. He whined so much about us denying him a public platform to further gloat about the Beavers' victory over USC this weekend that we gave him the space just to shut him up. So, we now present to you a "very special" edition of MMQB Lite.
This past weekend saw dreams shattered, dynasties threatened, and a great deal of whining, both at the box office and on the football field. Well, actually all the whining on occurred at Bobby Bowden's press conference after that humiliating loss to the University of Maryland. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Contrary to my fellow Prophets, I saw not a ho-hum, boring weekend of standard expectations, but a collection of deep tremors that shook the pop culture zeitgeist and created spaces for new players to emerge into the spotlight.
Now, I should admit that I am a native son of Nebraska and a true, die-hard Huskers fan (and, yes, I'm still bitter over several bowl games in the 1990s involving teams from Florida). However, Oregon State is a close #2 in that part of my heart reserved for college football. You'll see why this information is relevant as you read on.
Saw III took in $34.3 million during its opening weekend with a per-venue average of almost $11,000. A decent opening, but nothing truly outstanding. The film came up just a couple points shy of an exceptional win, much like the USC Trojans on Saturday.
Like the Trojans in the Pac-10, Saw III is the latest iteration of a franchise that has dominated Halloween films for the past few years. And just like the Trojans, it seems to be getting a little stale and shaky. Unfortunately, there was no other player at the box office like the mighty Oregon State Beavers, so we didn't get to see the film industry equivalent of one of the biggest upsets in my lifetime. To say that the Beavers win on Saturday was "unexpected" would be a gross understatement. This upset victory is on the same scale as Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan for the Best Picture Oscar in 1998 - it's just that stunning. Personally, I place Saturday's USC - OSU game on par with the 1984 Orange Bowl as one of the greatest college football games ever played and one of the most unexpected upsets in history.
I think the team behind Saw III slipped up just a bit, much like the players and coaching staff of the Trojans. They got too complacent and rested on past performance as some expectation of future results. Prior to Saturday, the Trojans had met the Beavers in 69 football games since 1914 with an overall record of 57-8-4. USC's favorite team to play was the Beavers; they had a better overall winning percentage against OSU than any other Pac-10 school. The last time OSU beat USC was in 2000, and that victory came in a gap after 26 straight USC wins from 1968 through 1999 and before USC's dynasty reemerged in 2002. Prior to Saturday, USC had won 27 straight games and had lost in Corvallis only three times in the previous 90 years. The game against OSU should've been a cakewalk.
The original Saw was a breakout hit of 2004. Much like the 2002 USC Trojans (led by Carson Palmer), it lost a few early contests, but later emerged as a powerhouse that spawned a dynasty of imitators. Saw had an $18.3 mil opening on Halloween weekend of 2004, which was about $3.4 mil behind the #1 movie that weekend, The Grudge. But even though it lost in the early season (much like USC losing to Kansas State and Washington State two years earlier), it later dominated the box office and DVD markets. More importantly, it inspired a complete shift in the horror movie genre away from dark and moody remakes of atmospheric Japanese films, like The Ring and The Grudge, and toward a more straightforward type of movie centered around the grisly capture and torture of innocents, like Hostel, The Descent, The Devil's Rejects, and the latest Texas Chainsaw Massacre films.