The 'Saw' franchise has had a lock on Halloween box office success since the first film debuted in 2004, consistently defeating all pretenders to the crown and grossing more than $370 million for the six films combined. But 'Saw VI' stumbled last year, taking in just $27 million, about half of what its predecessor made. Were people tired of the formula or were they, instead, catching up with 'Paranormal Activity'?
Opening in just 12 theaters at the end of September, 'Paranormal Activity' packed the screenings to the rafters and generated tremendous word of mouth, as in "you've got to see this." As distributor Paramount opened the film in more markets and on more screens, the audience grew until its wide opening on October 23, when it handily beat 'Saw VI,' $27 million to $17 million, despite playing in 1,000 fewer theaters, as recorded at Box Office Mojo.
That success emboldened Paramount to skip the theatrical build-up for 'Paranormal Activity 2' -- though it hasn't skimped on the viral marketing angle -- and open it wide a week ahead of 'Saw 3D.' And that strategy appears to be paying off, at least if very positive, scared stiff early word is to be believed.
As we discussed earlier this month, horror movies have not done very well at the box office recently. Since then, Wes Craven's 'My Soul to Take' absolutely tanked, despite the 3D bump. The difference for 'Paranormal Activity 2' and 'Saw 3D' may be the competition, or, rather, the lack thereof. The only other wide release opening this weekend is Clint Eastwood's 'Hereafter' -- hardly likely to be the same audience. 'Saw 3D' faces no other new wide release next weekend and will be competing directly against 'Paranormal Activity 2' on its second weekend. Now the question is: which film will win Halloween's box office war? Vote in our poll, please, and feel free to expand on your thinking in the comments section.