Saw IV's opening was a testament to the brand's strength, as it is rare for a horror sequel to maintain most of its predecessors' theatrical potency, and distributor Lionsgate's exit polling suggested that 90 percent of the audience had seen the previous three movies. The picture's main selling point was solely that it was the latest Saw. Other than the promise of more grisly puzzles, no new hook was presented in the marketing campaign and the slogan simply read "If it's Halloween, it must be Saw."
Despite Saw IV's start and a respectable showing from Dan in Real Life, overall weekend business was down from last year for the sixth time in a row. It was the least attended Halloween frame of this decade, due mostly to the weak crop of holdovers.
Dan in Real Life gathered a decent $11.8 million at 1,921 sites. That was by far the best recorded start for an adult comedy on Halloween weekend and was close to the similarly-themed The Family Stone. Though more dramatic than lead actor Steve Carell's $100 million movies, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Evan Almighty, Dan stood out as a new, pleasant diversion against the dark and murky fare that has populated the market.
Last weekend's top grosser, 30 Days of Night, withered 57 percent to $6.9 million for $27.5 million in ten days, its drop on par with the last Underworld and Blade movies, but the season's leader, The Game Plan, again had the best hold among wide releases. Disney's family comedy eased 25 percent to $6.1 million for $76.9 million in 31 days.
Among expansions, The Darjeeling Limited rolled out nationwide to 698 venues but mustered a measly $1.8 million, which was significantly less than the wide launches of director Wes Anderson's previous movies. Also soft was Lars and the Real Girl, which had its major expansion on the same weekend of the similarly-titled Dan in Real Life, with $926,675 at 296 locations. Faring much better was independent release Bella, a drama targeted at Latinos and religious people, which debuted to $1.3 million at 165 sites.
Director Sidney Lumet's crime drama Before the Devil Knows You're Dead was the sole highlight among smaller openings with $73,837 at two theaters, while the rest were non-starters, including Anthony Hopkins' Slipstream, Alison Eastwood's Rails & Ties and Jonathan Demme's Jimmy Carter Man from Plains.
• 10/30/06 - 'Saw' Sharp in Third Outing (Same Weekend, 2006)
• 10/31/05 - 'Saw II' Gores 'Zorro' (Same Weekend, 2005)
• 11/1/04 - 'Ray,' 'Saw' See Robust Starts(Same Weekend, 2004)
• Weekend Box Office Results
• Top Halloween Openings
• Torture Horror Movies
• 'Saw' Series
NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Oct. 28 and was revised on Monday, Oct. 29 with actual grosses.