Weekend Box Office (October 29 - 31, 2010)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The horror sequel Saw 3D became the fourth installment in the seven-film series to debut at number one and led a busy Halloween weekend at the North American box office. With no other movies opening in wide release, most holdovers in the top ten remained strong with three enjoying drops of less than 30%. The top ten generated the best showing over the Halloween or pre-Halloween frame in six years thanks in part to a pair of 3D sequels in the top five charging higher ticket prices.

Lionsgate trapped audiences over the pumpkin frame with Saw 3D which opened to $24.2M from 2,808 locations for a potent $8,629 average, according to final studio figures. The R-rated torturefest enjoyed a healthy 71% boost over the weak $14.1M bow of last October's Saw VI which was crushed by competition from the first Paranormal Activity movie. The new Jigsaw flick was slotted into the calendar a week after Paranormal Activity 2 so it would have less competition. Saw 3D's debut was well below the $40.7M launch of the latest Activity.

As one of the most popular fright franchises of all time, Saw 3D supposedly marks the end of the series. Being the so-called "final chapter" was a key part of the marketing campaign as was the extra dimension. First shows for the seven-quel began on Thursday at 8:00pm, but Lionsgate chose to bundle those ticket sales into the Friday figure which was $10.7M which included $1.7M from Thursday night. But the Thursday night take cannot be fully removed from the Friday figure since it includes shows from 12:01am onwards which are considered part of Friday. Saturday fell a sharp 26% to $7.9M while Halloween Sunday dropped by 28% to $5.7M. Saw 3D was not screened for the press ahead of time, but critics that reviewed it upon release slammed the film with some of the worst reviews of the series.

Following its terrifying top spot debut last week, the supernatural sequel Paranormal Activity 2 tumbled 59% to $16.5M claiming the second spot over Halloween weekend. Paramount's ten-day total stands at $65.7M and a final gross of $80-85M looks possible. Though the new demon flick won't match the $107.9M of last year's first Paranormal, it will still end up extremely profitable thanks to a slim $3M production cost. Marketing expenses were extra. The thriller's sophomore drop is in line with how horror sequels perform, especially when another fright flick enters the marketplace.

Holding steady in third place was the action-comedy Red starring Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman with $10.7M in its third weekend. The Summit release slipped only 29% thanks to great word-of-mouth and has taken in a strong $58.8M in 17 days. At its current pace, a final tally of $80-90M seems likely.

Paramount's hit sequel Jackass 3D broke through the $100M mark this weekend with the help of 3D surcharges. Johnny Knoxville and pals took in $8.5M, down 60%, and boosted the cume to $101.7M after just 17 days. Produced for under $20M, Jackass has easily beaten the $64.3M and $72.8M final totals of the first two films in the series. All three have sold roughly 11 million tickets, though the new pic's admissions figure is still rising.

Clint Eastwood isn't seeing the kind of audience love he normally gets for his latest film Hereafter which fell 47% to $6.4M for a total of $22.3M to date. The director often enjoys strong legs for his films but his latest is not getting strong word-of-mouth and Matt Damon's name is doing little to bolster the numbers. A disappointing $35-40M final seems likely for Warner Bros.

On the other hand, Disney's feel-good horse movie Secretariat continues to show exceptional legs thanks to positive buzz and little direct competition. The Diane Lane starrer slipped only 29% in its fourth lap to $5M raising the total to $44.7M.

The David Fincher hit The Social Network followed with $4.5M, off 38%, for a $79.5M cume for Sony. The comedy Life As We Know It declined by 34% to $4.1M and lifted its cume to $43.5M.

Warner Bros. stablemate The Town made off with $2M in its seventh weekend dropping only 28% for a $87.6M total to date. Jumping into the top ten for the first time was Hilary Swank's legal drama Conviction which expanded in its third weekend from 55 to 565 theaters grossing $1.8M. The Fox Searchlight film averaged a mild $3,241 and has collected $2.4M thus far.

Opening with decent but not stellar numbers in limited release was the Swedish film The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest which bowed to $881,737 from 153 theaters for a moderate $5,763 average. The third installment in the acclaimed Millennium trilogy enjoyed a wider North American launch than its predecessors. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo debuted in 34 sites in March while the first sequel The Girl Who Played With Fire debuted in 110 locations to $904,998 and a solid $8,227 average. Reviews were mixed for Hornet's Nest.

The top ten films grossed $83.8M which was up 8% from last year when This Is It opened in the top spot with $23.2M; and up 21% from 2008 when High School Musical 3: Senior Year stayed at number one for a second weekend with $15.3M.

Compared to projections, Saw 3D was on target with my $24M forecast which included Thursday night sales.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Check the box office chart for the Saw franchise. For a Blu-Ray review of Beauty and the Beast, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Megamind, Due Date, and For Colored Girls... all open.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Oct 29 - 31 Oct 22 - 24 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Saw 3D $ 24,230,123 2,808 1 $ 8,629 $ 24,230,123 Lionsgate
2 Paranormal Activity 2 16,508,107 40,678,424 -59.4 3,239 2 5,097 65,665,972 Paramount
3 Red 10,729,636 15,034,916 -28.6 3,349 3 3,204 58,823,430 Summit
4 Jackass 3D 8,504,163 21,313,815 -60.1 3,139 3 2,709 101,657,558 Paramount
5 Hereafter 6,422,327 12,018,147 -46.6 2,424 3 2,649 22,263,797 Warner Bros.
6 Secretariat 5,005,657 7,001,159 -28.5 3,108 4 1,611 44,708,804 Buena Vista
7 The Social Network 4,515,105 7,276,972 -38.0 2,767 5 1,632 79,520,984 Sony
8 Life As We Know It 4,055,473 6,136,454 -33.9 2,860 4 1,418 43,533,312 Warner Bros.
9 The Town 1,975,260 2,749,090 -28.1 1,608 7 1,228 87,626,867 Warner Bros.
10 Conviction 1,831,111 303,135 504.1 565 3 3,241 2,383,725 Fox Searchlight
11 Legend of the Guardians 1,758,321 3,248,019 -45.9 2,010 6 875 52,673,828 Warner Bros.
12 Easy A 1,067,248 1,748,906 -39.0 1,262 7 846 56,300,305 Sony
13 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest 881,737 153 1 5,763 881,737 Music Box
14 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps 783,868 1,244,851 -37.0 933 6 840 51,219,733 Fox
15 Devil 523,895 642,035 -18.4 635 7 825 33,099,560 Universal
16 Waiting for "Superman" 515,283 774,502 -33.5 330 6 1,561 4,593,109 Paramount
17 It's Kind of a Funny Story 444,453 677,162 -34.4 477 4 932 5,787,094 Focus
18 You Again 425,135 650,902 -34.7 673 6 632 24,697,810 Buena Vista
19 Alpha and Omega 420,958 727,103 -42.1 676 7 623 24,087,398 Lionsgate
20 Inception 362,531 500,140 -27.5 401 16 904 290,948,208 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 66,394,356 $ 96,322,274 -31.1
Top 10 83,776,962 117,205,902 -28.5
Top 20 90,960,391 124,519,050 -27.0
Top 20 vs. 2009 90,960,391 86,805,397 4.8

Last Updated: November 1, 2010 at 5:45PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.