The horror sequel Saw 3D became the fourth installment in the seven-film series to debut at number one and led a busy Halloween weekend at the North American box office. With no other movies opening in wide release, most holdovers in the top ten remained strong with three enjoying drops of less than 30%. The top ten generated the best showing over the Halloween or pre-Halloween frame in six years thanks in part to a pair of 3D sequels in the top five charging higher ticket prices.
Lionsgate trapped audiences over the pumpkin frame with Saw 3D which opened to an estimated $24.2M from 2,808 locations for a potent $8,618 average. The R-rated torturefest enjoyed a healthy 71% boost over the weak $14.1M bow of last October’s Saw VI which was crushed by competition from the first Paranormal Activity movie. The new Jigsaw flick was slotted into the calendar a week after Paranormal Activity 2 so it would have less competition. Saw 3D’s debut was well below the $40.7M launch of the latest Activity.
As one of the most popular fright franchises of all time, Saw 3D supposedly marks the end of the series. Being the so-called “final chapter” was a key part of the marketing campaign as was the extra dimension. First shows for the seven-quel began on Thursday at 8:00pm, but Lionsgate chose to bundle those ticket sales into the Friday figure which was $10.7M which included $1.7M from Thursday night. But the Thursday night take cannot be fully removed from the Friday figure since it includes shows from 12:01am onwards which are considered part of Friday. Saturday fell a sharp 26% to $7.9M while Halloween Sunday is estimated to drop by 30% to $5.6M. Saw 3D was not screened for the press ahead of time, but critics that reviewed it upon release slammed the film with some of the worst reviews of the series.
Following its terrifying top spot debut last week, the supernatural sequel Paranormal Activity 2 tumbled 59% to an estimated $16.8M claiming the second spot over Halloween weekend. Paramount’s ten-day total stands at $65.7M and a final gross of $80-85M looks possible. Though the new demon flick won’t match the $107.9M of last year’s first Paranormal, it will still end up extremely profitable thanks to a slim $3M production cost. Marketing expenses were extra. The thriller’s sophomore drop is in line with how horror sequels perform, especially when another fright flick enters the marketplace.
Holding steady in third place was the action-comedy Red starring Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman with an estimated $10.8M in its third weekend. The Summit release slipped only 28% thanks to great word-of-mouth and has taken in a strong $58.9M in 17 days. At its current pace, a final tally of $80-90M seems likely.
Paramount’s hit sequel Jackass 3D broke through the $100M mark this weekend with the help of 3D surcharges. Johnny Knoxville and pals took in an estimated $8.4M, down 61%, and boosted the cume to $101.6M after just 17 days. Produced for under $20M, Jackass has easily beaten the $64.3M and $72.8M final totals of the first two films in the series. All three have sold roughly 11 million tickets, though the new pic’s admissions figure is still rising.
Clint Eastwood isn’t seeing the kind of audience love he normally gets for his latest film Hereafter which fell 47% to an estimated $6.3M for a total of $22.2M to date. The director often enjoys strong legs for his films but his latest is not getting strong word-of-mouth and Matt Damon’s name is doing little to bolster the numbers. A disappointing $35-40M final seems likely for Warner Bros.
On the other hand, Disney’s feel-good horse movie Secretariat continues to show exceptional legs thanks to positive buzz and little direct competition. The Diane Lane starrer slipped only 28% in its fourth lap to an estimated $5.1M raising the total to $44.8M.
The David Fincher hit The Social Network followed with an estimated $4.7M, off 35%, for a $79.7M cume for Sony. The comedy Life As We Know It declined by 35% to an estimated $4M and lifted its cume to $43.5M.
Warner Bros. stablemate The Town made off with an estimated $2M in its seventh weekend dropping only 29% for a $87.6M total to date. Jumping into the top ten for the first time was Hilary Swank’s legal drama Conviction which expanded in its third weekend from 55 to 565 theaters grossing an estimated $1.8M. The Fox Searchlight film averaged a mild $3,230 and has collected $2.4M thus far.
Opening with decent but not stellar numbers in limited release was the Swedish film The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest which bowed to an estimated $915,000 from 153 theaters for a moderate $5,980 average. The third installment in the acclaimed Millennium trilogy enjoyed a wider North American launch than its predecessors. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo debuted in 34 sites in March while the first sequel The Girl Who Played With Fire debuted in 110 locations. Reviews were mixed for Hornet’s Nest.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $83.8M which was up 8% from last year when This Is It opened in the top spot with $23.2M; and up 21% from 2008 when High School Musical 3: Senior Year stayed at number one for a second weekend with $15.3M.