The Importance of Beating Saw

Like the film or not, horror fans must be happy that Paranormal Activity beat Saw VI in this past weekend’s box office standings. The psychological horror and torture porn horror films went toe-to-toe in a battle of wits, with Paranormal Activity coming out on top with a weekend earnings of $21,104,070. Saw VI finished second with earnings of $14,118,444.

This says a few things about the state of horror films in this country. America is ready for the goods to be delivered. While I personally think the Saw series wore out its welcome a couple films ago, the series still had a decent enough backing to survive on its miniscule budgets. But the recent buzz and hyping of Paranormal Activity by way of Twitter, Facebook and Eventful.com has helped lend to the takeover atop the box office charts.

And the rise of Paranormal Activity hasn’t been short of amazing. The film has accumulated a grand total of $61,580,588 in its five weeks in theaters. These five weeks include instances where the film was only being shown in as little as 12 theaters. In its first week the film managed to average $6,489 per theater. The film then expanded to 33 theaters, 160 theaters, 760 theaters and finally 1,945 theaters this past weekend.

What shouldn’t go unmentioned in that beating of Saw VI is that fact that Paranormal Activity was shown in only 1,945 theaters while Saw VI was put into a whopping 3,036 theaters the same weekend. Paranormal Activity averaged an outstanding $10,850 per theater to move to the top spot and beat the sixth film of a dying series.

But this race is far from being over. With Halloween coming on a Saturday this year, this coming weekend should prove to be the finally telling point in the competition of two brands of horror filmmaking. Did people put Saw VI off for Halloween weekend, or will more people hop on the Paranormal Activity wagon and ignore Saw VI once again? If next weekend’s box office numbers are similar to these latest ones, I’ll be more confident in calling it a knockout.

And even though Saw VI finally felt defeat, I’m still not sure the series is completely over. I wouldn’t be surprised if I kept having to see a new release each October. Because the films are cheap to make and because there will always be that core group of fans that actually find the films entertaining, they always make a good size profit for Lionsgate in just its first week of release. Even though the film ended up in the second spot behind a different horror film, it still made just about $3 million more than it’s $11 million budget. Look for a good chunk of change to land in Lionsgate pocket after this coming weekend as well.

This year has certainly been a kick in the butt for the horror genre. Sam Raimi made a brilliant return with Drag Me to Hell and the great Trick ‘r Treat finally made its DVD debut. Spain saw the release of [REC]2, a film diehard fans of [REC] are begging to see in the states sometime soon. Lars von Trier’s Antichrist added a little depth to the horror genre with his atypical film and Sorority Row put the fun back into campy slashers. A myriad of other quality titles, such as The Haunting in Connecticut, Orphan, the terrific Zombieland also saw release. These, coupled with the upcoming limited release of Ti West’s House of the Devil, a return to horror by Wes Craven and a brand new zombie film from the lord of zombies, George A. Romero, made for a year that gives me hope for a revival of sorts inside the horror genre.

I always knew the Saw films would take a nose dive. It was just a matter of when. But much like all the other horror franchises that became mega-popular over the last 20 years, I’m certain Saw will continue to see films added to its mundane legacy. They might not even come on a year-by-year basis, but they’ll still be there. I’m just wondering how long until they remake the first Saw.

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