It’s always hard to admit when you’re wrong. But writing this column means going out on a limb sometimes, and I found myself teetering on the edge of just such a bough these last few weeks as I proclaimed, over and over, that Saw IV would be the end of the franchise. That it would tank and Lionsgate execs would find themselves lamenting their decision to take what was an interesting film with an interesting premise and beat it into the ground by releasing sequels every year for four years.
I was wrong.For the record, Saw IV brought in $32 million last weekend from 3,183 theatres for a $10k average. Even so, I stand behind my reasoning. The so-called “torture porn” genre seemed to have bottomed out with Hostel II, The Hills Have Eyes II, and Captivity. Given the dismal returns for sequels, I didn’t put much stock in Saw‘s name recognition. There are no stars to speak of, and the third entry struck my as creatively bankrupt (you may remember I had some good things to say about Saw II).
I guess there’s no accounting for holiday impact, as much of the take for Saw IV was surely motivated by it’s proximity to Halloween. If nothing else, I hope this will at least keep studio big wigs on their toes. No word yet on the violence quotient for P2, which opens in two weeks, but my guess is the only way to up the ante on this Red Eye clone is to beef up the body count. If it tanks, what will Warner Independent do with Michael Haeneke’s remake of his own Funny Games, due out in February? I’ve seen the original, and it’s definitely more unsettling than the latter Saw films, and, while the original doesn’t exactly bring much name recognition to the table, it does have a decent cast, including Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt. Will we see Saw-type numbers, or will it crash and burn Captivity style?
I’m still recovering from my last trip out on the limb, so I’ll wait to see what kind of marketing push it gets before making my own prediction, but I’m definitely interested to here what my beloved commmenters think.
Opening decently in second place was the Steve Carell vehicle Dan in Real Life, the first adult-oriented comedy we’ve had in a while. It brought in $12 million from 1,921 theatres for a $6k average, and represents at least a decent critical turnaround for Carell after the drumming he took for Evan Almighty. Pieces of April director Peter Hedges and co-star Juliette Binoche bring along some good will as well, and while some have criticized the movie for being too slight or sitcomy, I think this is the kind of material Carell is better suited to, as opposed to big budget summer tent poles. It should have good legs and draw a decent profit for Buena Vista, as most upcoming releases aimed at adults are more downbeat, serious fare (see next week’s American Gangster, for instance).
30 Days of Night fell hard in it’s second week, losing 58% to $6.7 million and a $27 million total. Sony will still find black ink on this one, and Saw certainly cost it some of it’s audience, but if they’d made a more daring film, I think word of mouth and Halloween legs would have carried north of $50 million, instead of the $35 million it’s on pace to bring in. The Game Plan followed in fourth with $6.2 million, down 24%, for a $77 million final. Southland Tales opens in two weeks, so all you families that enjoyed the Rock’s performance in Game Plan, make sure you turn out for that one! (As part of my pro-Richard Kelly duties, here’s a (a href=” http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/28/movies/28lim.html?_r=1&ref=movies&oref=slogin”>link to a decent NY Times piece on Kelly and Tales.)
TP’s WDIGM (see last week’s column) took a tumble in it’s third week, but is still holding well for a Perry film, dropping 52% to $5.7 million and a $47 million total. Michael Clayton continued it’s solid run, losing just 24% (seond only to The Game Plan in the top ten) and bringing in $5 million, making it’s total a respectable $28 million. Equally encouraging was the hold for Ben Affleck’s Gone, Baby, Gone, which lost only 29% in it’s second week, bringing in $3.9 million for an $11.3 million total. That isn’t much, but if word of mouth can get it past $25 million, some awards consideration might be in the cards.
The Comebacks finished eighth in it’s second week, falling 37% (it should have fallen more) to $3.4 million and a dismal $10 million total. We Own the Night was ninth, also down 37% to $3.4 million, but with a better, if not spectacular, total of $25 million. The 3D re-release of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas rounded out the top ten with $3.3 million and a $10 million total.
Finally, in limited release, Sidney Lumet’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead grabbed almost $74k from two theatres for a $36k average. With mostly glowing reviews and Oscar nods a near certainty (Lumet is an Academy favorite, even if his earlier Find Me Guilty was criminally ignored), this should have great numbers heading into awards season.
And that about wraps it up for this week. Check back next week when first place should be a photo finish between Ridley Scott’s crime epic American Gangster, and Jerry Seinfeld’s animated turn in Bee Movie. Plus we get John Cusack in the K-Pax clone Martian Child. See you then.