Weekend Recap: Not as many people “Saw” it

I’m sad to announce that the streak has ended at 6. On Friday, I chose Saw VI to take the box office crown as the “Saw” films have so often done in the past, but it was horror competitor Paranormal Activity that climbed all the way to No. 1 this week.

I’m now batting .850 or so at the box office this fall, but it was only a matter of time. I mean, I’m not invulnerable. In fact, I even had a feeling when I wrote Friday: I think I could be horribly wrong here…” that I could have completely blown this week’s predictions. When it comes down to it, I grossly overestimated one movie and doubted the buzz of another.

  1. Paranormal Activity – $21.1 M (weekend) … $61.6 M (gross)
  2. Saw VI – $14.1 … $14.1
  3. Where the Wild Things Are – $14 M … $53.5 M
  4. Law Abiding Citizen – $12.4 M … $40 M
  5. Couples Retreat – $10.6 M … $77.7 M
  6. Astro Boy – $6.7 M … $6.7 M
  7. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant – $6.3 M … $6.3 M
  8. The Stepfather – $6.2 M … $20.1 M
  9. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – $5.2 M … $114.8 M
  10. Zombieland – $4.2 M … $67.2 M

Let’s start with my choice of Astro Boy as the No. 2 film. “Astro” finished No. 6 and just barely, making about $6 million when the budget was $60 million and the film was released in 3,000 plus theaters. That constitutes this weekend’s biggest flop. I think where I erred was not checking the distributor. Summit Entertainment has not had any successful kids films and probably didn’t advertise all that well. Not being a child, little of their marketing reached me, obviously, so I took a stab.

The biggest surprise is really that Saw VI drastically underperformed. I was calling for $27 million and it barely made half that at $14 million, good enough for second ahead of Where the Wild Things Are, but barely. The wide release of “Activity” was the big factor, something I knew but was unsure how to estimate. Normally you don’t have to take into account a film’s release getting bigger and its buzz growing.

Perhaps “Saw” fans are finally giving up on their once beloved torture films and in combination with Halloween nearing and “Activity” getting more and more popular, it wasn’t meant to be this year. I’m sure when all is said and done, there will be money made on this film, but the next films are going to need to find a way of stepping their game up.

In terms of what I got right, I predicted Cirque du Freak would be a mega-bust and indeed it was. I at least have my early fall movie predictions intact. Nothing I’ve said would be bad has turned out good (quality speaking) or vice-versa.

Overall, this was a week mostly for old releases. The overall Top 12 take was one of the highest of the fall, but it fell 17 percent from last week. The new releases did poorer, but the solid films at the bottom of the Top 10 performed better than most other films in those low positions earlier this season.


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