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Box office: 'Saw 3D' beats 'Paranormal Activity 2' in final act of vengeance [updated]

October 31, 2010 |  9:07 am

Saw3D The series that began the modern torture-horror genre staged a small comeback.

With no other new competition on Halloween weekend, "Saw 3D" opened to $24.2 million, according to an estimate from distributor Lionsgate. It easily beat "Paranormal Activity 2," which on its second weekend in theaters dropped a hefty 59% to $16.5 million.

Last year, the first "Paranormal Activity" beat "Saw VI" in an embarrassing defeat for Lionsgate.

This year's entry, advertised as the finale, did significantly better than "Saw VI," which opened to a weak $14.1 million. However, it didn't bring the series back to its former heights. "Saw II" through "Saw V," released from 2005 to 2008, all took in between $30 million and $34 million on their debut weekends. And those movies didn't have the benefit of 3-D ticket price surcharges, which provided a sizable advantage to this year's installment. 92% of its ticket sales came from the 75% of theaters showing it in 3-D.

Previous annual sequels also cost less, typically coming in with a budget of about $11 million. Due in large part to the fact that it was shot in 3-D, this year's "Saw" cost Lionsgate about $20 million.

Still, the not-great-but-still-good debut demonstrated that despite the failure of "Saw VI," the series hasn't lost all its mojo. If it follows the pattern of previous "Saw" films, which disappeared quickly from theaters since most of the young audience comes on opening weekend, "3D" should end up with a domestic gross of about $50 million.

[Update, 10:50 a.m.: In Great Britain, the only foreign territory where Lionsgate is distributing the movie, "Saw 3D" set a new franchise record. It opened to $5.3 million, 30% better than the previous best British debut for the series, 2006's "Saw III"]

Conviction The only other film to make a major move in the marketplace was the Hillary Swank drama "Conviction," which expanded from 55 to 565 theaters across the country. The adaptation of a real-life story about a woman determined to free her brother from jail collected a weak $1.8 million.

"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," based on the last installment of the bestselling book trilogy, opened to an unimpressive $735,000 at 121 theaters.

The James Gandolfini-Kristen Stewart independent drama "Welcome to the Rileys" launched in 10 theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Boston to a soft $45,000.

The adult action film "Red" and inspirational drama "Secretariat" both continue to hold extremely well. Ticket sales for both declined only 28%. On its third weekend in theaters "Red" brought in $10.8 million, while "Secretariat" collected $5.1 million on its fourth weekend.

On its second weekend in theaters, the Clint Eastwood-directed drama “Hereafter” declined 47% to $6.3 million. That’s better than the prolific director’s last movie, “Invictus,” which dropped 51% on its second weekend, but worse than 2008’s “Changeling, which also debuted in October and took a second weekend hit of only 22%.

[Update, 10:50 a.m.: Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international ticket sales when available, according to studio estimates and

1. "Saw 3D" (Lionsgate): Opened to $24.2 milion.

2. "Paranormal Activity 2" (Paramount): $16.5 million on its second weekend, down 59%. Domestic total: $65.7 million. In Great Britain, opened to $5.3 million.

3. "Red" (Summit): $10.8 million on its third weekend, down 28%. Domestic total: $58.9 million.

4. "Jackass 3-D" (Paramount): $8.4 million on its third weekend, down 60%. Domestic total: $101.6 million.

5. "Hereafter" (Warner Bros.): $6.3 million on its third weekend (second in wide release), down 47%. Domestic total: $22.2 million.

6. "Secretariat" (Disney): $5.1 million on its fourth weekend, down 28%. Domestic total: $44.8 million.

7. "The Social Network" (Sony/Relativity): $4.7 million on its fifth weekend, down 35%. Domestic total: $79.7 million. $14 million overseas in 50 foreign markets. International total: $51 million.

8. "Life As We Know It" (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow): $4 million on its fourth weekend, down 35%. Domestic total: $43.5 million. $5.8 million overseas in 27 foreign markets. International total: $26.9 million.

9. "The Town" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $2 million on its seventh weekend, down 29%. Domestic total: $87.6 million. $6 million overseas in 40 foreign markts. International total: $42.5 million.

10. "Conviction" (Fox Searchlight): $1.8 million on its third weekend (first in nation-wide release). Domestic total: $2.4 million.]

-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: Chester Bennington in "Saw 3D." Credit: Brooke Palmer / Lionsgate. Bottom photo: Hillary Swank and Sam Rockwell in "Conviction." Credit: Ron Batzdorff / Fox Searchlight.