WILL WE SEE SAW AGAIN?
So, was the Saw franchise hacked to death by Paranormal Activity over the weekend? That was the question box-office analysts were debating as final figures revealed that Saw VI opened with only $14.1 million despite being shown on more than 4,000 screens at more than 3,000 venues. By contrast, Paranormal expanded to two-thirds that number of screens and theaters but still managed to rake in $21.1 million -- even though it had already been playing in limited release for over three weeks. Its gross now stands at $61.6 million -- 4,100 times as much as it reportedly cost to produce ($15,000). Although, as in the case with most horror franchises, the Saw movies have ebbed since the first sequel, they have still managed to take in more than $30 million during their customary opening the weekend before Halloween. Meanwhile, Paramount has hinted that it may bring out a sequel to Paranormal Activity next year, but it was not clear whether the studio was planning to expand the current story or simply grab another mini-budget feature from a talented amateur filmmaker. Making Paranormal's success even more striking was the failure of three new movies that cost tens of millions of dollars each to produce. Astro Boy could only bring in $6.7 million despite paying in the same number of theaters as Saw VI. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant reported a bloodless $6.3 million at nearly as many. And Amelia crashed with just $3.9 million at about 800 theaters.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Paranormal Activity, Paramount, $21,104,070, 4 Wks. ($61,580,588); 2. Saw VI, Lionsgate, $14,118,444, (New); 3. Where the Wild Things Are, Warner Bros., $14,019,406, 2 Wks. ($53,558,981); 4. Law Abiding Citizen, Overture Films, $12,403,888, 2 Wks. ($40,008,703); 5. Couples Retreat, Universal, $10,620,685, 3 Wks. ($77,736,885); 6. Astro Boy, Summit Ent. $6,702,923, (New); 7. Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, Universal, $6,293,205, (New); 8. The Stepfather, Sony, $6,230,969, 2 Wks. ($20,082,652); 9. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Sony, $5,250,541, 6 Wks. ($114,854,877); 10. Zombieland, Sony, $4,205,812, 4 Wks. ($67,213,384).
SONY BRACES FOR CRITICAL BARBS ABOUT JACKSON FILM
In advance of tonight's midnight premiere of Michael Jackson's This Is It concert documentary, Sony Films has begun a preemptive attack on expected criticism of the film by movie reviewers. Responding to reports that the filmmakers had used body doubles for Jackson, a Sony Films spokesperson told the TMZ website, "This story is pure garbage and there are no body doubles. Audiences will begin to see the film tomorrow and every time they see the King of Pop they will know that every frame is unquestionably Michael as he rehearses and prepares for the London concerts that were to have begun this past summer."
NETFLIX MOVIES TO STREAM ON PS3'S
Extending its leadership among online video renters, Netflix announced Monday that its streaming service will be available on Sony's PlayStation 3 game systems beginning next month. Netflix already has a similar deal in place with Microsoft's Xbox system. To access the service on their PS3s, the company said, Netflix subscribers will need to order a free "streaming Blu-ray disc," an indication that the service will offer full high-definition video. Netflix is one of the few companies that appears to be boosted by the recession, as more people decide to spend their entertainment dollars at home. Last week the company said that 9.6 percent of all households in America now subscribe to Netflix, but in some cities the percentage is much higher. In San Francisco, for example, Netflix reported that 21.2 percent of households subscribe to Netflix. The deal is also seen as a boost for Sony's lagging game system. In a statement, Jack Tretton, head of Sony's computer entertainment unit in the U.S., said, "Whether you want to watch content on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, download it from the PlayStation Network's video delivery service or stream videos instantly from Netflix, the PS3 system is the only solution that offers it all."
POLANSKI VICTIM SAYS SHE'S BEING VICTIMIZED AGAIN
Director Roman Polanski, imprisoned in Switzerland and facing extradition to the U.S., could be rescued by the woman he allegedly raped when she was 13 years old. Samantha Geimer indicated in a court filing on Friday, in which she requested that the charges against Polanski be dropped, that she is being victimized again as she has been pursued by the press since Polanski's recent arrest. "The pursuit has caused her to have health-related issues," the court documents said. "The pursuit has caused her performance at her job to be interfered with and has caused the understandable displeasure of her employer and the real possibility that Samantha could lose her job."
MOVIE SCRIPTS BEING ALTERED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TAX INCENTIVES
In order to take advantage of tax incentives, foreign subsidies and weaker currencies, some producers are rewriting scripts of movies they are producing in order to switch locales from California to foreign countries and other states, the Wall Street Journal observed today (Tuesday). The newspaper cited one producer, who, in an effort to lower costs, changed the action of his movie Velocity from Texas to Madrid, Berlin, and Montreal. The producer, Ingo Volkammer, told the Journal, "I would rather back a script into a budget than a budget into a script." Jean-Luc De Fonti, a primary investor in the George Clooney movie The Men Who Stare at Goats, said he decided to shoot half the film in Puerto Rico and the other half in New Mexico because of tax incentives in those places. "We didn't have to change the script" to move to those locations, De Fonti told the Journal, "but we had to convince the talent to spend some time in Puerto Rico and New Mexico."