Box Office: Low-Budget Activity Favored Over Neverending Redundant Sequel

It used to be you could just toss a script together and call it “Saw”, release it on Halloween, and the kids would flock to see it. Well that’s still sort of true, though not nearly in the same league as previous incarnations of the “Saw” franchise. Especially when there is actual competition in the widening “Paranormal Activity”, the little horror movie that could, which continues to draw in audiences thanks to outstanding word of mouth. The low-budget horror movie, made for less than what “Saw 6” probably paid for one day of catering, pulled in another $22 million at the box office in the film’s first 1,945 screen week, according to studio estimates.

Mind you, not that “Saw 6” did badly — the sixth film in the neverending franchise about a slick killer and his proteges opened with $14.8 million in its debut, much less than the previous five entries in the series, but still easily turning a profit. Thanks to a lack of an A-list cast and the savings salary-wise, the film was made on the cheap for $11 million, and it’s $14.8 million opening week more than justified the continuation of the franchise, though perhaps the studio should start thinking about direct-to-DVD where, frankly, the series now belongs. Expect “Saw 7” next year, though.

Besides “Saw 6”, three other films opened over the weekend: the sci-fi CG movie “Astro Boy”, vampire-comedy “The Vampire’s Assistant”, and the Hilary Swank bio-pic of Amelia Earhart, which stars Swank as the pioneering flyer.

All three films failed to make much of an impact at the box office, with “Astro Boy” opening outside the Top 5 at #6 with $7 million. The film, made for $65 million, would seem to have a hard climb ahead of it towards recouping its production costs, though DVD sales for the kid’s movie should go a long way towards that end. “The Vampire’s Assistant” opened in eighth place with a middling $6.3 million, while Mira Nair’s “Amelia”, opening in just 818 theaters, took in $4 million with a more than respectable $4,921 per screen average. That’s tops among all the major studio movies, though well short of “Paranormal Activity’s” ridiculously impressive $11,311 per screen average.

Weekend Box Office (via):

.1 Paranormal Activity $22,000,000 $62,477,000
.2 Saw VI $14,800,000 $14,800,000
.3 Where the Wild Things Are $14,420,000 $53,960,000
.4 Law Abiding Citizen $12,713,000 $40,318,000
.5 Couples Retreat $11,097,000 $78,213,000
.6 Astro Boy $7,017,000 $7,017,000
.7 The Stepfather (2009) $6,500,000 $20,352,000
.8 Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant $6,348,000 $6,348,000
.9 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs $5,600,000 $115,204,000
.10 Zombieland $4,300,000 $67,308,000