24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Saw

'Saw,' the franchise that won't die (or will it?)

November 1, 2010 | 12:31 pm


Pretty much every horror director you talk to these days proclaims the end of torture porn. And yet "Saw," the franchise that most exemplifies the modern movement, won't go away (the hand-from-the-grave jokes write themselves).

Lionsgate's post-Jigsaw horror flick "Saw 3D" opened this weekend and, despite competition from "Paranormal Activity 2" and potential franchise fatigue for what is a remarkable seventh movie in seven years, still managed to win the weekend with a respectable $24 million.

The victory over "Paranormal Activity 2" is especially notable because the first incarnation of that low-budget upstart defeated "Saw VI" soundly last year on Halloween weekend, enough of an embarrassment to prompt Lionsgate to bring on then-"Paranormal Activity 2" director Kevin Greutert to direct the new "Saw." (Greutert was set for "Paranormal," but Lionsgate had the option to use him for "Saw" -- which, perhaps fearful of losing  more of its audience to "Paranormal," it then exercised in a move of corporate jujitsu.)

Of course, as my colleague Ben Fritz points out, even though the box-office numbers for the new "Saw" nearly doubled those of "Saw VI," the victory isn't as unqualified as you'd think. This weekend's figures were distorted by the new film's 3-D ticket surcharges, for one thing. And "Saw 3D" still came in below the opening numbers for the second, third, fourth and fifth "Saw" films (which all grossed in the $30-million to $34-million range). And "Paranormal Activity 2" will likely still beat "Saw 3D" by a wide margin when all is said and done.

There's another piece of box-office data that suggests the popularity of the franchise is slipping.

Continue reading »

Saw franchise ends with a bang, and a bloodletting

October 29, 2010 |  6:11 pm


It’s a bittersweet weekend for "Saw" fans as the final film in the long-running franchise hits theaters.  How much mayhem have we endured over the past six years? Quiz your friends while you wait in line with this quick by-the-numbers look.

Q. How does Jigsaw stack up to other villains when it comes to box office?
A. Saw has sold $370 million worth of tickets sold (so far) -– that means Jigsaw has drawn more victims (to theaters) than Michael Myers (“Halloween”), Jason Voorhees (“Friday the 13th”) and even Freddy Krueger (“Nightmare on Elm Street”).Hairpuller

Q: How many people will Jigsaw have taken out, or pushed to suicidal action, by the time the "Saw 3D" credits roll?
A: 70, including this film and the six previous ones.

Q: How many diabolical torture/death traps has the franchise featured?
A: 47, including the hair puller pictured at right. "Saw 3D" has the largest number of traps.

Q. How many gallons of fake blood were needed for “Saw 3D"?
A: More than 25 –- that’s 2.5 times more than they needed for "Saw II."

Continue reading »

Lionsgate moves 'Saw 3D' release date to avoid face off with 'Paranormal Activity 2' [UPDATED]

July 22, 2010 |  4:12 pm

Saw5 In the battle of the horror giants, Jigsaw has blinked: Lionsgate Thursday pushed back the release date of "Saw 3D" from Oct. 22 to Oct. 29.

The move avoids a looming standoff on Oct. 22, when Paramount was scheduled to open "Paranormal Activity 2" against the seventh entry in the annual "Saw" series.

All of the "Saw" movies since 2004's original have opened on the weekend before Halloween and Lionsgate had the same plan for this year's installment. However, in January Paramount made clear its intentions of supplanting "Saw" with its fresh horror series by dating "Paranormal Activity 2," a follow-up to last year surprise low-budget hit, on the same date, Oct. 22.

The date added insult to injury after Paramount attempted to recruit Keven Greutert, the director of "Saw VI," to helm "Paranormal Activity 2." However, production company Twisted Pictures ended up exercising its contractual option to have Greutert work on "Saw 3D" instead and Paramount ended up hiring indie director Tod Williams. [Updated: A previous version of this post stated that Lionsgate exercised the contractual option. It was Twisted Pictures.]

Last October, "Saw VI" opened on the same weekend that "Paranormal Activity" played in a nationwide release for the first time and grossed a disappointing $14.1 million, compared to $21.1 million for "Paranormal." Executives at Lionsgate apparently decided they would rather concede the Oct. 22 date than repeat the same experience.

In an interview Thursday with USA Today, "Saw" producer Oren Koules said "Saw 3D" be the last entry in the series, which has grossed more than $370 million since 2004. The first five entries were all successes, but last year's "Saw VI" was a surprise disappointment.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Joris Jarsky in "Saw V." Credit: Steve Wilkie / Lionsgate.

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