Box office preview: Can 'Saw 3D' silence 'Paranormal Activity 2'?

saw-3d-ninaImage Credit: Brooke PalmerWith only one major release this weekend, it’s tempting to simply predict a first-place finish for Saw 3D and call it a day. However, this Halloween weekend’s battle between two horror films — Lionsgate’ seventh (and allegedly last) Saw entry and Paramount’s holdover Paranormal Activity 2 — may wind up closer than we anticipate. For one thing, there’s bad blood between the two franchises. When Saw VI opened last year on Oct. 23, its weekend victory was all but assured, especially considering that since Saw II, every Saw movie had debuted to at least $30 million. But instead, little Paranormal Activity, with its $15,000 budget, expanded wide and amputated Saw VI‘s box-office prowess. Paranormal Activity grossed $21.1 million that weekend while Saw VI had to settle for second place with $14.1 million (and a series-low domestic total of $27.7 million).

And yet, despite this cautionary preamble, I’m still picking Saw 3D over Paranormal Activity 2. Here’s why:

1. Saw 3D: $23.5 million

The wild-card element at play is 3-D. If everyone who saw Saw VI comes out for Saw 3D and pays the exorbitant 3-D surcharge, that would result in a sizable bump. (A Colbert bump would have been even better). Saw 3D should also benefit from being advertised as the final entry in the franchise. Moviegoers who saw only the first two or three Saw films may still be curious to discover how the whole enchilada ends. Despite these selling points, however, Saw appears to be a (horrible pun intended) dying series. Since Saw II, each successive film has cumulatively earned less than its predecessor. And 3-D doesn’t seem to have quite the same pull it had six months ago; for instance, that extra dimension failed to stir much interest in Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take, which premiered to a measly $6.8 million a few weeks ago. So I’m predicting Saw 3D will split the openings of Saw V ($30.1 million) and Saw VI ($14.1 million) and come away with around $23.5 million from 2,808 locations — still a tidy sum considering the film’s reported $11 million budget.

2. Paranormal Activity 2: $18.5 million

Considering how front-loaded Paranormal Activity 2‘s record-breaking $40.7 million weekend was, the film would likely be facing a significant drop even if Saw 3D wasn’t opening this weekend. But throw Jigsaw into the equation, and Paranormal 2 should anticipate a 55 percent fall.

3. Jackass 3D: $10.5 million

Even if Jackass 3D takes another tumble of about 55 percent, Johnny Knoxville and company should cross $100 million this weekend — a Jackass stunt no one saw coming.

4. Red: $10 million

Having dipped only 31 percent its second weekend, Summit’s action comedy should continue to hold up well. In fact, it could easily overtake Jackass 3D for third place this weekend, but I’m giving the stunt pranksters a slight edge. By the end of the weekend, Red will have practically matched its reported budget of $58 million.

5. Hereafter: $7.5 million

Historically, Clint Eastwood’s films are slow burners, and with little else in the marketplace for serious-minded adults, the supernatural drama Hereafter would normally be expected to slip only 30 percent or so. However, in light of the film’s average reviews and a C+ score from CinemaScore audiences, I’m predicting a (still commendable) drop that’s closer to 40 percent.

Also opening in 10 locations is the indie drama Welcome to the Rileys, starring Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart, James Gandolfini, and Melissa Leo. The third and final entry of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, also debuts in 123 theaters.

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  • Mike

    I think you’re overestimating the pull (if not the prices) of 3D, and this Saw sequel will also have a gross in the teens.

    • Gabe

      I agree with you that the 3-D element will probably not help much in terms of getting new viewers, but I think his number is correct because everyone I know who likes Saw is seeing it this weekend in 3D and not waiting. The returns from the extra money of 3D could make the difference…

  • Yaneli

    Paranormalactivity2 was awesome i think this is the best movie i ever seen.Saw3d is always the same we all already know wats goin 2 happen boring.I cant wait 4 paranormalactivity3

    • twitter:spaghetticats

      Are you kidding? Paranormal A. 2 sucked. I went to a midnight screeing and people actually booed at the end and through out the movie.

      • Larry

        Probably too many teen boys in the crowd who think horror: CGI monster biting peoples’ heads off. It’s a common problem.

  • Zo

    I saw PA2 last Thurs, and would love to see it again this weekend before Halloween, but I’m not sure if I’ll get to squeeze it in. Definitely going back for second helpings on that one though!

    And once Halloween is over, I am looking forward to “Hereafter” and “Conviction”, which opened this week in my city.

  • Matt2

    I’m thinking Halloween weekend is going to help Paranormal Activity stay hot. People are looking for real fun and scary things to do this weekend; scary amusement park rides, haunted houses, ghost tours, and scary movies. Paranormal Activity is truly scary. Saw 3d looks to showcase another round of sick, perverted torture. Of course I could be wrong. I’ve only had the displeasure of sitting through that boring filth once.

    • griffin

      I’m see PA2 this weekend. I am not interested in SAW 3D. I made the mistake of seeing the first one and decided afterwards that the “torture porn” was not entertaining or my thing. I do hope we have truly seen the last of the SAW films!

  • tom

    i love the saw movies…#2 was the best….3 4….sucked…5 and 6 were good not great….what i am most pist about is the 3d thing….god…get over it….i will take 2d horror anyday…bad choice saw…to a franchise i loved…..

  • justin

    I’ve seen every saw movie, and liked them (except for saw VI), so I’m definitely in for this one. I’m actually looking forward to the 3-D effects.

  • kevin

    I saw PA2 twice last week. I loved it and might see it again. I loved the 1st one too. I agree that Saw is not much more than torture porn and it is a torture to watch. PA2 is a true scary movie and perfect for Halloween.

  • Phil

    After seeing SAW V in theatres, along with all the previous ones, I didn’t see SAW VI last year until it came out on dvd earlier thi year. I didn’t really care for it, but I would like to see this SAW 3D in 3D since I hope that the effects could be possibly worthwhile. As i’ve said on a fe of these boards, the last few 3D movies haven’t been worthwhile..but MEGAMIND 3D was really enjoyable and I expect that to mop the floor next week. In fact, SAW 3D HAS to open big this weekend, since its going to already lose a bunch of the 3D theatres next weekend to MEGAMIND. But I agree with alot of the folks here..the torture porn thing has been done for a while, hopefully this SAW will be the last & end that kind of genre for some time.

  • Christian

    Saw diectors please stop making them. Torture porn is stupid and way to bloody for me. I saw the 1st one and it was good but now there are 7 waaay to many! I saw PA2 last weekend and i loved it . It worked perfectly and the scene n the kitchen scared the living shiit outta me! This one makes PA1 look liike crap!

  • James

    Saw 3D was pretty good, if you have seen any of the saw movies, you should see this one just to see how it ends (if this really is the last one). As for PA2, no real interest in seeing it, the first one made me laughed throughout the whole movie, it was not scary at all, and I do enjoy low budget, no gore horror movies, but PA had absolutely nothing scary about it and im pretty sure that PA2 has nothing more to offer

  • mark

    saw wins! paranormal activity sucks! i cant believe anybody would find this crap scary! the first one was a comedy i was on the demons side! saw is awesome! i would rather have saw anyday over paranormal crap!

  • isso

    exciting film

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