Box Office Guru Preview: Saw IV Set to Brutalize All Competitors
Dan in Real Life only other wide opener.Saw IV which should allow the lucrative franchise to claim the biggest horror opening of the year for the second straight time. The R-rated gorefest follows last year's Saw III which bowed to $33.6M this very weekend setting a new debut record for the series. Jigsaw's death in that installment did not stop a fourth flick from being produced since the most popular horror movie villains never truly die anyway. Although III set a new opening weekend record for the Lionsgate series, it did not match Saw II's overall $87M gross and instead finished a bit behind with $80.2M. Still, with small budgets (Saw III was produced for $12M) this cash cow continues to churn out profits and shows no sign of stopping.
The audience for Saw IV is clearly defined and new fans are not likely to be generated. Competition will come primarily from last weekend's number one opener 30 Days of Night which will suffer a sharp fall this weekend. Otherwise, there is not much to distract genre fans on the weekend before the pumpkin holiday. The marketing has been on par with previous films, but as the franchise ages it risks losing fans who may have had enough with three helpings already. Plus this year has seen a wide assortment of horror films crash and burn which has led to some fright fatigue. Another factor could be the World Series which last year only affected Saw III's Friday bow but this year will cut into both Saturday and Sunday business. Many young adults may opt for the torture that the Red Sox are inflicting on the Rockies instead. Saw IV opens on Friday in 3,183 locations and could take in about $29M over three days.
Steve Carell provides some laughs to those not interested in Halloween horror. Following the relatively disappointing $100.3M gross for his $175M budgeted comedy Evan Almighty, the funnyman returns in the dramedy Dan in Real Life playing a depressed widower who falls for his brother's girlfriend during a family reunion weekend. Juliette Binoche and Dane Cook co-star. The PG-13 film is not a full-fledged comedy so it won't attract the entire Carell fan base that has grown rapidly over the years thanks to The 40-Year-Old Virgin and the hit sitcom The Office. Also Buena Vista is not releasing the film too wide so the numbers will be kept to a manageable level. Dan should skew mostly to an adult audience so a cluttered marketplace filled with options for mature moviegoers will be a factor too. A poor title won't help either. Though reviews have been generally positive for this lovable loser tale, a large number of moviegoers might just wait for the DVD on this one. Dan in Real Life stumbles into more than 1,700 theaters on Friday and could collect about $9M.
Steve Carell in Dan in Real Life
Last weekend vampires ruled the box office with 30 Days of Night, but this time a steep fall is guaranteed. Horror pics always drop hard on the second weekend and add in the arrival of Saw which will steal away the same audience, and a 55% decline could result. That would give Sony about $7M for the frame and a decent ten-day total of $27M. Tyler Perry's hit comedy Why Did I Get Married? has little in the way of new competition to deal with which means another good hold is likely. The Lionsgate pic may slide by 40% to around $7M as well and boost its 17-day total to $48M.
30 Days of Night
The Game Plan has been the fall season's top grosser and Disney once again has no threats opening against it. The Rock's durable hit should dip by 30% to roughly $6M for a cume to date of $76M. George Clooney's well-reviewed legal drama Michael Clayton will face some competition for adults from Steve Carell this weekend, but a solid hold does seem likely. A 30% drop would put the Warner Bros. title at $4.5M for the session and lift the sum to $28M.
LAST YEAR: Like clockwork, Saw III came in and dominated the pre-Halloween box office with a franchise-best $33.6M debut grossing more than the rest of the top five combined. The Jigsaw pic eroded fast and ended up trailing Saw II's total tally and finished with $80.2M. Holding tight in second place was Martin Scorsese's crime saga The Departed with $9.8M in its fourth assignment and the lowest drop in the top ten. The magician drama The Prestige followed closely in third with $9.6M. The war drama Flags of Our Fathers ranked fourth with $6.3M while the animated hit Open Season placed fifth with $5.9M. Opening to dismal results outside the top ten was the Tim Robbins drama Catch A Fire with only $2M on its way to a horrible $4.3M. Platforming in only seven sites was the ensemble drama Babel which went on to gross $34.3M and win the Golden Globe for Best Picture - Drama.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com